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Head of School's Blog

Occasional musings from Head of School Brad Bates

From Winter to Spring

Last Sunday (4/10), I went for my last cross-country ski of the season on campus. Within forty-eight hours, we had temperatures in the 80s, and the students filled the quad to soak up the beautiful sunshine. Sometimes I am amazed at what transpires in a week on a small boarding school campus. Here are just a few things we experienced this week.

On Sunday and Monday, we were visited by a team of educators from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), who are responsible for our ten-year reaccreditation. Our faculty have been working hard on our self-study and this first NEASC visit focused on our mission, board governance, finances, and enrollment. The visit went very well, and the visiting team had excellent feedback for us. They will visit again in the fall and look closely at our overall program. We will ask for some parents to join us for that part of the process.

Since I have been doing some significant travel for the school over the last two months, I have been making it a point to spend as much time as possible with the students. I enjoy visiting classes, making trips to Chipotle and Dunkin's, and guest coaching our spring teams. On Wednesday I hiked up Temple Mountain with our outdoor program spring group. This student-led group could not have been more fun, unified, and enthusiastic throughout the two-hour adventure. Shout out to Dean '23 for proposing this afternoon activity and for providing outstanding leadership on every outing.

Music teachers Dan Sedgwick Marji Gere invited everyone to join their musicians for a guest concert on by Ashuelot Concerts in the Shonk Recital Hall. Louisa and Nick Stonehill performed a piano and violin duet and answered the students' questions. They also talked to the students about developing habits (it takes sixty-three days to form a habit) and working on focusing their attention; suitable life lessons for all of us.

I love visiting classes and appreciate it when teachers invite me to special events in their classrooms. Mr. Peyton-Levine invited me to his Solar Power Class to witness a Shark Tank exercise where his students broke into four teams, developed solar-powered projects, and pitched them to Mr. Weis' Economics class (they acted as the "shark" investors). I was pretty impressed with the portable charging projects the students constructed in Sadie's Maker Space, and the competitive atmosphere was intense, with lots of fake cash trading hands.

I have always loved Dublin School's history of having students use their hands and minds to construct things for the local and broader communities. I sense that students find using their hands more rewarding than ever, and it has encouraged us to double down on creating opportunities for them to create and build. Swinging by the Von Merten's Woodshop, I talked with a group of students who were affixing a metal roof to a woodshed that will be delivered to accompany the warming hut they built high up on our trails. Inside the woodshed were two student-built Adirondack Chairs built out of skis. 

Yesterday my wife Lisa and I worked separately with two student Work Gangs. Students helped Lisa clean up the Nordic Center and helped me clean our driveway after the long winter. I always find it easier to talk to students on a deeper level when we are working together for three hours on a Saturday morning. Other Work Gangs helped clean a local church and a summer camp nearby. Almost every Monday, I receive an email from a local community member commenting on how enthusiastic and helpful our students care. I could not be more proud.