Upon my return from sabbatical on July 1, I was met with a felicitous surprise: that a team of teachers had chosen the theme of “explorations” for the incoming 9th grade summer assignment. “Explorations” have also been the theme of my sabbatical, so this felt synchronous and welcoming. It captures the spirit of the new crop of students arriving into a new school and a new phase in their lives, and communicates to them that we know they will be curious, tentative, sometimes frustrated and ultimately exhilarated as they chart new paths and navigate new streams in their lives and learning. I will be able to share in these feelings, so newly back from explorations of my own, and can assure new students and new parents alike of the rewards of this frame of mind going into the flood of new experiences and the challenge of growing on many levels: social, emotional, physical, intellectual, and ultimately spiritual as well.

Perhaps because of my life in the boarding school world, I sought challenges in all these realms during my term away from campus. Here are a few highlights of my explorations. Pursuing areas of my passion, I volunteered for C-10 Research and Education Foundation  in Newburyport, MA, a citizen watchdog agency that monitors emissions and safety at Seabrook nuclear power plant, and the Nuclear Information Resource Service in Takoma Park, Maryland. I wrote articles, material for websites, and a curriculum guide, and have developed a better sense of myself as a researcher and writer.  I attended sessions at the UN in NYC for the review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, PH.D. presentations at the Belfer Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government on issues of nuclear waste, and hearings with officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Agency. I met new people everywhere I went and made a point of seeking out new organizations with every trip. My travels took me to Washington DC for a few days each month, Nova Scotia, and Eastern Turkey.  Further explorations involved interviewing people impacted by the on-going genocide against native peoples on this continent, and the Armenian genocide.  I have written pieces for Independent School magazine’s blog, and some poetry, and tried my hand at composing. For my “sports,” I have had the enormous benefit of running coaching with Cathy Utzschneider  P ’15, and worked to improve my speed. A meditation class has helped me explore another realm as well. Throughout, the freedom to spend time with people and projects  I love has  been intensely rewarding.

I am excited to be back, and to witness the explorations of the new students as we build a new year and learn together. Creating schedules, my first task, is a way of helping to craft and support the exploration of each Dublin student, and it is a privilege to have this role. I look forward to all the new year will bring!