From a rural South Dakota to Sibang Kaja

In the dark early morning hours, on a rural road in South Dakota, I was stuck, axle deep in snow. As I waited in this predicament, during the past holiday break, hoping for a snowplough to come by, I had visions of actually being the driver of a snowplough. Well, let’s be honest, who hasn’t dreamt of being a snow plough driver? Having the equipment and skills to brush obstacles aside and to be of service to others.    

With this rare moment to pause, in a totally quiet place, I could reflect on my work at Green School and the whirlwind past semester.  My predicament seemed so far away from my current experience. Or was it?  I find the thought of being the snowplow driver of Green School appealing and not too far from the truth.

I wake up before the light, drink too much coffee, and am motivated by the idea of clearing pathways to enable  great learning opportunities for students and teachers.  I work to keep the current pathways clear of obstacles and barriers, so that student growth can flourish, teachers can carve out new pathways for learning, and we can all discover a more beautiful and valuable place.  

But even when a pathway in rural Dakota is cleared there remains a slippery, bump, messy area to traverse.  This is how we learn too.  One of the Learning Principles that our team discusses regularly is that Learning is REAL: Learning is fun, messy, and unpredictable.   Perhaps my upbringing, though it seems so disconnected, in fact prepared me perfectly for this role.

My mentor, a kind and brilliant educator and thinker, recently said this to me about positions like mine at the Helm of a School:  “It is the best job in the world, with some of the most difficult days imaginable.”

True.  I ruminated on this statement over the holiday break as I reflected on my first semester at Green School in a position which was new for the school and for me.  During this time, I have had heartfelt, inspiring conversations about education, children, learning, enriching  the community, improving the toilets and so so much more. I have built new and strong relationships with staff, parents and students from different parts of the school.  Existing relationships have evolved and been challenged as I have adopted a wider perspective and have had to take some difficult decisions. It is a profound responsibility with which I take great care and execute with humility and openness.

A Green School education and our environment will forever, I know, be a fun, messy, and unpredictable place.  It is the only way to make real change in an ever-changing world.

On the academic side, I look forward to meeting educators who want to join our team as colleagues, seeing our From Garden to Table space and programme come to life across the school, reviewing our reporting system to better document the learning journey of each child, improving our information systems, and publishing our wonderful curriculum and pedagogy team’s updated and more comprehensive descriptions of Learning Principles, core competencies, programs  and curriculum descriptions.

Operationally, we are eager to welcome Dennis Walker (see separate article for an introduction) who will help shore up, lead and finalise great work that has been done to date on our many operational processes; health, safety and security, campus improvements and much more.

We are excited to get cracking on these projects and many more.  And what better way to kick off the work than a Marimba dance party this Friday at 2.30pm!?  See you there!

Ibu Leslie,

Head of Academics and High School

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