A Pain Free Day for Head of School Pane

Today, I was able to work as the Head of School at The Woods Academy. The first words, or phrases, that come mind to describe the day are: fun, interesting, faster than a normal school day, sometimes annoying, but overall, it was a good day.

I learned several lessons today as well. One is that you need to be calm as the Head of School. Second is that you need to learn to say no to people sometimes. Lastly, I learned that I need to be careful sharing my plans because not all can participate sometimes. These were good lessons learned on the job as the Head of School.

There were many highlights from the day. Shaking hands as students entered the back door in the morning was great, even though it was so cold. Teaching PE class was fun. I was also allowed to have a cup of tea while I handed out the birthday stickers. We even learned that we had a student’s birthday listed wrong. So we made the correction. Skipping my classes was fun and having lunch with my friends was great as well.

The biggest challenge I faced was that everyone asked me questions. I think I had received over 100 questions by 11am. The hardest questions were the ones where people asked for certain privileges. I think this is why I learned that it is important to learn to say “no” at times.

Overall, it was a great day. I would recommend that other students should try to be the Head of School for the day. Just remember to smile a lot in this job.

– Garrick P.

Dig a Well to Increase Enrollment

A few years back, The Woods Academy established a partnership with Hotcourses Primary School in Kenya and we began an academic and cultural exchange between our 3rd-5th grade students. It has been a wonderful partnership that has evolved to now include service work and social understanding throughout the region with Nyumbani Village and the Maasai Village. The partnership is so powerful because our two schools, along with the village and orphanage, manage the relationship in a manner that brings tremendous value to all, especially this week.

Justus Mwaka Musia, our main point of contact in Kenya, was just in the states for a visit and came to spend the day at The Woods Academy, meeting with students, staff and me. Justus is an amazing man who serves his people so well and shares with us the impact of the relationship when he visits. It is always great to have Justus on campus. This particular visit hit me hard.

Last spring, our school and student led service club committed to a water project for the people of the Maasai Village and the Maasai Pastoral Community Development Alliance (PCDA). We raised funds so that a well could be dug and clean water could be accessed by the community and the school on site. In our conversation the other day, Justus reported the water project was a success and that enrollment at the school in the village increased due to the access to water. Justus was greatful for our support and almost mater-of-factly reported on the increased enrollment in school due to water. Did he say that enrollment went up simply because of water?

Independent schools are spending hours upon hours on complex marketing plans and committing a tremendous amount of money and resources to find ways to increase or stabilize enrollment numbers. PCDA just needed water to get there. Perspective was not something lost on me here. Water, the most basic life necessity, is the reason for the enrollment increase at the school in the village. Of course it is. Water leads to growth. It was a pretty powerful moment when Justus shared this and I immediately began thinking of “what else can we do” to help get more kids to school at PCDA. We must do more.

By providing good and clean access to water it is allowing for more to be educated in this village. Our work with Justus and the village is showing us the power of simple necessities. Water opened my eyes to the work we are doing in Kenya and the ways in which we can truly make a difference with our efforts to provide a simple necessity like water. In a world where schools are competing with technology and state of the art facilities to grow enrollment, PCDA is accomplishing it with water. Simple, powerful and so refreshing.

Faith in Humanity Restored

The middle school years have a reputation for being a rough period of time for kids where name calling and mistreatment of peers is often the norm. Does this sound familiar? I know, it does to me too, it sounds eerily similar to the political campaigns we are seeing from our so-called political candidates as they run for party nominations right now.

So, I was a little nervous when our middle school students took to the stage for campaign speeches this past week. I know our kids well, and while I was not worried they would resort to calling someone ugly in their campaign speech or show an unflattering picture of their mom or dad on the big screen, I was curious to see how the current climate of politics would impact their middle school campaign speeches.

My faith in humanity was restored as I watched and listened to each  brave young man and woman get up on the stage to discuss why they wanted to run, how they would make The Woods better, and what made them qualified candidates to hold a student government position. They would often compliment one another as they spoke, they displayed grace and a willingness to listen to the students and they ALL kept things positive (even when they spoke about areas they wanted to fix). I only wish I had videotaped it all and sent it to the “adults” who are actually running for President.

Civics and civility can go together. I know it can. I just witnessed pre-teens do it. In our upside down world of where “adults” are spending their days insulting one another and our younger politicians are acting like mature and responsible adults, I am just glad I am on the right side of this upside down world. Our kids can and will lead the way and this past Tuesday was living proof. Well done Woods Academy candidates. You have my vote!