Ted Talks March/April 2024: Cultivating Community, Curiosity, and Connections

Ted Graf, Head of School
See Head of School Ted Graf's latest Ted talk from the March/April edition of the Current here!

As we welcome the joyous and uplifting spring celebrations (e.g. Field Days, Community Picnic, Spring Concerts, Graduations, and Gates of Life), we have the opportunity to deepen and build community, culture, and trust going into next year. 

For me (and as the school year closes), this means finding ways to celebrate and amplify the deep connections between guides and students. These relationships were on vivid display during the Senior Colloquium and the Seniors' final Pitso called the “Chairemony.” I heard countless stories of acts of generosity and empathy; gestures of support between students and guides, and lots of appreciation from the students for being seen and being real. I know we will see the depth and closeness of these relationships at Gates of Life and Graduations, too.

While the guide-student relationship is at the center of all we do, the quality of relationship between guides, administrators, and parents matters and these relationships deserve care and attention, too. From my vantage point, we seem uncharacteristically stuck in our respective constituent groups this year. Maybe it’s the busy-ness of our lives, maybe it’s the polarized broader culture, maybe I’m misreading the signals? Regardless, I invite us to resist conventional stories and stereotypes about our roles and to mix it up. Our school has always valued more mixing of these groups–guides performing in theatre productions and parents doing the music; guides and parents collaborating to make field days a blast; students and parents performing songs or dances at the community picnic! Please join me and others in mixing it up as we close out the year.

In preparation for the 2024-2025 school year and the cultural tensions that another presidential election will bring, I have found myself thinking about the poem below by Kim Stafford. It has been helpful, as I have considered the question: 

         How will we create conditions at school that value curiosity over certainty? 

Meeting Halfway
Behold this empty space
between your certainty and mine,
this arena of sunlight free
of claim and counter claim,
this bright meadow where no one
has shouted, bullied, or begged,
where butterflies are sovereign,
where birdsong is our legislation,
where you and I could walk
out into the open, look around,
and speak—first of the children,
then of our dreams, and only then
of the work we will do together.

If you like to write, I encourage you to try Stafford’s writing prompt related to this poem: 

Invite someone you disagree with to a beautiful encounter, a meeting in new ground, in a place where it would be difficult to argue in the old way…

And, if you have suggestions or resources about how to prepare ourselves (students, parents, and guides) for next year’s presidential election or any other aspect of school culture, please write to me at headofschool@headwaters.org. Finally, if you chose to respond to Stafford’s prompt and want to share it, please send it along to me at the same email address. If you’re willing, maybe we’ll publish some of them. Oh, and if you come to Field Days on the Creek Campus, I’ll be the person with the shield to fend off water balloons.

Spring Campus

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Creek Campus

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River Campus

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