Over the past two weeks I have become completely immersed in our Derby community. I have been interviewed by our second grade students who asked me all about the ways I learn best, I have greeted our primary school students at morning drop-off, and have witnessed the eighth grade speeches for student council. I’ve stood on the sidelines to cheer on our Field Hockey team (who had a 3-1 victory!), watched Middle School students climb through a high ropes course and engineer an egg drop, and handed out cookies at snack (yum!). I attended the Secondary School Fair this week with more than 100 high schools in attendance… and was shown caterpillars in first grade that are waiting to become butterflies. And these are just the highlights!
What I am so pleased about is that whatever the grade level, whatever the venue, I see happy and engaged students developing, growing and learning.
To steal from the first grade curriculum a bit, and to bring in some of my science teacher background, our Pre-K to Grade 8 program promotes a metamorphosis in all of our children. Education is a process of development that takes time, goes through stages, promotes change, allows for nature and environment to influence outcomes and if done right produces a well-equipped specimen ready to fly off and take on the challenges of the world around them.Our program feeds our “hungry caterpillars” by providing a variety of age-appropriate experiences. Our classroom curriculum develops the minds and habits important for the future. Our intentional interpersonal interactions (say that three times fast!) and stress on social/emotional development help create confidence in building relationships and approaching new situations. As our students grow, we wrap each student in the expectations, the philosophy, the adult relationships and the culture that we all believe in here at Derby—we create a kind of Derby Chrysalis. We keep them safe, allow them to try new things, encourage exploration, and giving them the time to build their foundation and become independent and confident young adults.As I watched our eighth grade students navigate the Secondary School Fair this week, I could sense their cocoons beginning to separate, their wings beginning to emerge. It will take this eighth grade year of leadership, this year’s experiences, to fully break out of their comfortable home, but I assure you that when you arrive on Derby Day next June you will see a parade of butterflies, with uniquely colorful wings ready to take flight and take on a new environment.