Ted Talks: On Relevance and Youth Leadership

Ted Talks
Following the planet-wide and student-led climate change strike on September 20, and following the UN's International Day of Peace focused on climate action as a vehicle for peace, and reflecting on Dr. Maria Montessori's 150th birthday, I am grateful to the teachers and parents who had the courage to start The Khabele School and, soon after, Primavera Montessori School nearly twenty years ago.

They seemed to know then, following the tragedy of 9/11, that our school's mission, vision, and values would be relevant for years to come. They knew that a school committed to teaching peace, a school where student input and voice are critical, a place that respects and honors the beauty of childhood, a place where each community member is respected and cared about, a place where we accept and understand that we learn in different ways and at different rates--they knew it was needed then, and they get to see how important it is today.

Last year at this time, when we rolled out the PACT (Peacemakers, Advocates, Thinkers, and Creators) to the community, I don't think we fully appreciated how fully it captures the kind of learning and education we yearn to create. In the spirit of Advocacy at last Friday's climate strike, our delegation from the River Campus was mobilized by several seniors and by guides, including Kelley Janes, our resident physicist and astronomer, who was one of the featured speakers. The event brought parents and students from the Creek Campus as well, and I was delighted to feel the urgency of youth leadership.

With that as a backdrop and as we begin the sixth week of the school year, it feels like the right time to look ahead. I'm excited to share with you some efforts that we hope will define this school year and sustain our relevance as a school.

Since January of 2017, we have been engaged in a process of documentation, analysis, and self-reflection with the hope of earning initial accreditation with the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS). Much of our professional development this year will be focused internally as we reflect and write the report. Next Monday, September 30 (a day off for students), faculty and staff across all three campuses will be writing about our programs--from facilities and transportation to after-school programs and everything in between. As we look critically at those programs, we'll identify where we shine and where we can improve. We'll also identify plans and priorities as we look ahead.
n Friday, October 11, a professional development half-day, we will follow up that work by  editing those early drafts and looking for patterns and overlaps. Our final ISAS-focused  professional development session will occur on January 29 (yes, another half day!). We'll meet in the Studio on the River Campus and hear both Recommendations and Commendations from the chair of the visiting team. It's important for you to know that these sixteen visitors are not random state bureaucrats, rather they are fellow teachers and school leaders from independent schools in Houston, Tulsa, Dallas, Albuquerque, and Midland who will have read and studied our report. During the three days they'll spend with us, they'll fan out across all campuses and classrooms to observe and gauge whether our self-assessment is accurate and fair.
Like so much of our work this year, whether it's focused on curriculum or culture, after-school programs or athletics, we will be striving to answer these questions: 
  • What makes Headwaters unique? 
  • And, how do we sustain our uniqueness while preparing for the school's future? 
To all parents, thanks in advance for your support of this important work and for your patience with our days off. I look forward to conversations with you at coffees, at circle drive, on the sidewalks, and at Parent Ed Pitsos throughout the year.

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