As a leader who spends most of their time out of the classroom, one of the ways to feel the core of the Roberts Field experience is by simply walking through the hallways and listening to the sonic and visceral landscape that the program produces daily. As a leader, it is in this time when--through the staircases and walls-- I am inadvertently able to feel the intentions and spirit of the school, and it is in these moments that I sometimes surprisingly feel the most profound attachment to upholding the center of our philosophy. Ironically, with these walls and the daily administrative busyness separating me from sitting down amid the lessons and activities of the classroom, I grasp on to what truths I can glean in these minutes while I am still in motion.
I hear movement and laughter and concerted quests for answers.
Just peeking in for a second as I round the corner I see groups hovering over numbers. Through their body language alone I discern the precedent that math occupies in their life already. These joyous math spells witnessed are far more than just the engaging effect of the new math, but ideas that embed in the child's mind ongoing, ideas involving numbers that captivate them and that they passionately continue to churn beyond that moment. Perhaps they take them home and into the Field with them. I witness the freedom that the child has in all of the structure offered to empower themselves with tools, language, and various supplies and materials, all amid the omnipresence of fellowship. The teachers are so thoughtful and consistent - again, they knew this moment was the perfect moment to put music on right after they settled those two children out of a routine and minor imbroglio. Ah, children feel seen and heard here because that is our practice. The child's individual voice is celebrated and I can hear them taking risks as they answer. I can hear their courage and confidence as they try with an answer, or work harder on putting together the pieces of the obvious STEM contraption that I cannot further distinguish in my passing by. And then, I hear music being made. Under a covenant of empathy and compassion, the children compose lyrics and song that will uplift and bring joy, humor, and inclusion to all. Studio Terra Kindergarten moves past in the hallway and I know to not speak to them because they have declared themselves both "invisible" and "inaudible." This, just after stepping further into the imaginative expanse of the continent and culture in which they've recently acclimated. That cultural expanse and country also exist in Prospect Park due to their superior imaginative powers.
Stepping back and looking up and around the classrooms I see many more examples than I can count of our students' creativity documented in installations all around them as both pillars and reminders, as well as decoration and celebration of the beauty of their imaginations and the processes of their thinking. Yes, it should be displayed! Through the response and direction of the teachers, I hear experience, high skill, and extreme care. I think to myself, "these people care so much more than this just being a job." In that two seconds of eye contact that is made with the teacher or child as I pass, it is transmitted to me how committed the teachers are to the mission and to offering their very best. Their devotion is illustrated in such simplicity, such as the way they bend over close to gently, but firmly, push the child beyond what the child had declared as their limit at that moment. As I survey any writing that I see upon the walls, I catch my breath knowing the gift given to them in exposure to a certain poem, in diving into the nuances of a culture and philosophy, in questioning and deconstructing an injustice. The gift in that they were able to build that structure, capture that action through a lens, etch and sketch stories of history and long before, and read and write together. All of these projects and focuses with their group where they were all taught to listen to each other and to care as much about the expression of the other as their own. These Reading Ambassadors--these Friendship Ambassadors!
As I am moving up another staircase and out of the way to the office, my last nudge to stop one second more in this footprint and stay with my impressions comes from feeling the building bounce. The rumble and bouncing comes because one of the classrooms is stomping rhythmically up the stairs in heavy breaths. They've taken to and returned again from nature where the biggest treasures of the classroom coalesce with the generosity of the elements of the given season on that given day.
They are youngly rugged, boisterous, breathless, and inspired as they make their way up into the top quarters--through the wood, bone, soul, and poetry of this big old house that is the home of our school.
We are committed to the gift of deep thinking, surveying, and creativity, and trusting this form of education and nurture as not only salient, but also as successful. Just from passing through, I am inspired and grateful. Just from passing through, this integral evidence and vibe resounds from all pores of our program environment. Even if you listen for a few moments, even if you just glance it, just like any sudden vibe of which you are sure, that is how you know it to be special and true.