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Winter Stories

Last Friday, Berwick celebrated its third annual winter carnival – where we stop everything, get the PK-12 community outside in the snow, and have some fun. At the opening ceremony, I told the kids that these are moments when we know we are part of something bigger than ourselves at Berwick. Soon all three divisions were off to broomball, acaderod races, and snow sculptures. We watched as faculty and student alike dove in to have a good time together.
I was struck that our opening ceremony took place on the same day as the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. For the first time, my children are old enough to be interested in this international competition. They are drawn to the names of the countries and trying to figure out where everyone must train based on geography. They think sports like skeleton and luge are beyond cool. And they don’t understand why their Dad seems to tear up at every other event.
“You cry at everything,” one of them said recently.
Well, as a Head of School in Feb…
Recent posts

Beautiful Questions

Recently I finished a book called A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger. A speaker at a conference this year recommended it, and the title intrigued me. As the name suggests, the focus is on how quality questions generally drive the best businesses to true success. Asking the right questions is an essential aspect to strong leadership. Beyond thinking about leadership in the business world, the notion of quality questioning can be applied to one’s personal life but also about schools and education. In fact, the book makes a case that our education system generally rewards answers from students, even though the evidence suggests that being able to ask the right question is an essential skill in the workplace. Not unlike Ken Robinson, who maintains that our educational system intentionally educates creativity out of children, Berger maintains we do the same for curiosity and questioning. He highlights that human questioning hits its peak at about four years old, where research show…

A Culture of Excellence

It is hard to avoid the energy that is building towards the Patriots next attempt at a Super Bowl on Sunday around here. As of Wednesday this week, I was swimming in a full on assault to see if Mr. Schneider might call another Sunday night Super Bowl snow day with a pending storm on the way during his final year. And while it is hard to deny that the media coverage is a bit much at the moment (how much more can we hear about mysterious “tensions” in the locker room), watching this epic run by the Patriots reminds me of a few things about football I feel compelled to mention.
I actually have thought extensively about speaking too much about the role football has played in my life, as I worry I might suddenly be labeled as an anti-intellectual jock…or people will say that I place too much emphasis on sports. But I must say that this particular sport shaped and formed me in some fundamental ways. The first shaping was undoubtedly in my role as a player. It was there that I learned that co…

The Power of Faith

My former Head of School was fond of saying that late January, in the context of all enrollment and employment contracts being sent out, was the time when he suddenly found himself with no students and no employees. There is no denying the challenge that exists in sending out all kinds of offers to be a part of Berwick’s next journey and having to wait for seven or eight hundred different contracts to emerge in various ways. Some of those eight hundred stories will be straightforward, and some will take lots of follow up and persistence. There will be happy surprises and surprise disappointments along the way; there are every year.


It is hard as a leader, and harder as a parent, to acknowledge that certain things are out of our control. I heard recently from a Berwick parent that their freshman in college was back in the house for the past month and how hard it was to figure out the proper parenting role. Mostly this person just hoped and prayed that good decisions would be made. W…

Capturing Berwick in a Bottle

We often lament in the Admission Office that we wish we could bottle up the Berwick spirit in our marketing efforts. Bringing clarity and data to all that makes Berwick unique is a difficult task. To some degree, one has to experience it to believe it.  In fact we just celebrated one of those nights last week at our Trustee/Faculty/Staff dinner. At that event, our guests from the Taktse School in Sikkim, India were in attendance as were their Berwick host families. One of the added bonuses of this arrangement was that a few of our Berwick parents caught a glimpse of this special event that is generally not open to our parent community. I hope my musings today might offer some of you a glimpse as well.
It is a rare and special tradition that after our January Board meeting, our employee community sits down with trustees to share a meal and celebrate the school. January strikes me as a good time to do this, when we are in the thick of the year rather than the excitement of the beginning …

The Power of Powering Down

As we have all returned to the busy pace of Berwick life once again this week, I have been struck deeply by the rather insidious expectation and unquenchable thirst we seem to have for communication of all types. This is not to dismiss the need at schools for great communication. To the contrary, I would offer that most of my toughest and most important moments as a leader have revolved around challenges associated with communication – whether to our internal or external audiences. The need for transparency and informed expectations are essential component to running a solid school these days. I certainly know that I have plenty of room for growth in this area.
But it is also true that I spent the majority of my time last week with my cell phone off, my computer gone, and in the presence of a roaring fire. Music, backgammon, cribbage, and conversations were ubiquitous. Without such immediate access to email or CNN, a rather cliché epiphany emerged: I had everything I needed right wher…

E.T.

I don’t think everyone is aware that for this period between Thanksgiving and Winter break, grade levels within the Middle School temporarily re-organize themselves to offer interdisciplinary learning experiences to break up the regular routine of class. This year, I was asked to participate in the “Machine Pilot” aspect of the seventh grade effort to explore the concept of extra-terrestrial life (E.T.). Seventh graders are asked to consider who, out of anyone on the planet, they would choose to send into outer space to interact with alien life forms and why. Our students are told they can literally choose any person on the planet, and the focus need not necessarily be someone with experience in space travel. In fact, they are asked to envision a pre-programmed ship with one seat, leaving them to consider not just technical skills but who would we want to represent human kind in this first interaction. They research, create resumes, write persuasive cover letters and are ultimately as…