Ted Talks: An Ending is But Another Beginning

Ted Graf
One of the great joys of my job is that I get to participate in the end-of-year ceremonies on each of the campuses, which means that I often get to have unplanned conversations with parents, grandparents, and friends of the students.
I see, hear, and feel the patterns, the overlaps, and the changes of the children. Among the comments heard and overheard this year, "Wow, I didn't know students and teachers could connect in the way yours do. How do you all do that?" Another, "Can everyone at this school sing?! How is it the place is so musical?" And this one, "I so admire that the school demonstrates to its students that transition and learning are the real constants in our lives."

Below, you will find some brief excerpts from my remarks back in May at Gates of Life and Eighth Grade Graduation.
I'd like to offer a few thoughts about great teaching. It's strenuous, very strenuous! It requires emotional, physical and spiritual stamina because we never know what a student may carry into class, and we never know what will emerge from the world to affect us. Great teachers are like great artists--they change us, they rearrange us and our very cells. After an encounter with a great teacher, we are different in the same way we are different after being in the presence of great art--John Coltrane's "Love Supreme," Matisse's stained glass, Rothko's color fields, Mary Oliver's "Wild Geese."
And here's a poem by Linda Pastan I read before Gates of Life on the Creek Campus. It was offered to the parents and grandparents in attendance because, after all, it's a transitional moment for them too:
To a Daughter Leaving Home
When I taught you
At eight to ride
A bicycle, loping along
Beside you
As you wobbled away
On two round wheels,
My own mouth rounding
In surprise when you pulled
Ahead down the curved
Path of the park,
I kept waiting
For the thud
Of your crash as I
Sprinted to catch up,
While you grew
Smaller, more breakable
With distance,
Pumping, pumping
For your life, screaming
With laughter
The hair flapping
Behind you like a
Handkerchief waving
May you and your kids have those moments this summer where you scream with laughter, hair flapping behind you. May it be a restorative summer!
And a Short(ish) Digression and Invitation about Summer Reading

One of the many delights of summer for me involves reading (and sometimes napping). Before sharing my (too long) summer reading list, an announcement to all community members: the faculty and staff will be reading Brene Brown's new book, Dare to Lead , over the summer. We chose it because of its emphasis on empathy and because of her reverence for teachers and teaching. She believes teaching well is a component of leadership.

Please pick up a copy for yourself and stay tuned for details about parent book groups in September or October. We would love to engage with you about Brown's work and what it teaches us about Headwaters and our aspirations to cultivate identity formation, foster empathy and embrace diversity to bring more peace to the world . One other plug for a book; I
 am currently reading Daniel Coyle's, The Culture Code , and I'm finding it fascinating, especially as I reflect on what I learned about our school's culture this year and given my curiosity about how to build culture across three different locations. Check that one out and let me know if you want to chat about it and don't forget to tag #HWreads (read more here).

Two books about the wonder of the natural world I read this spring and recommend highly:
  • The River by Peter Heller
  • The Book of Delights by Ross Gay.
And my book stack for the summer:
  • Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay
  • The Behavior of Love by Virginia Reeves (former faculty member!)
  • Searching for Stars from an Island in Maine by Alan Lightman
  • The Overstory by Richard Powers
  • Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

Springs Campus

18 months to Pre-K
6305 Manchaca Rd.
Austin, TX 78745
Phone: 512-443-8843

Creek Campus

Elementary School
9607 Brodie Ln.
Austin, TX 78748
Phone: 512-804-2708
Fax: 512-628-4810

River Campus

Middle & High School
807 Rio Grande St.
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: 512-480-8142
Fax: 512-480-0278