Welcome to the Headmaster's Blog where you'll find updates, thoughts, and events regarding Saint David's School, the education of boys, and other items of interest. This is by no means meant to be a complete account of all that happens at Saint David's. Please refer to the school's website for more complete details -- it's more a Headmaster's musings.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Saint David's v St. Bernard's

In the third quarter, Saint David's Red is fighting hard to close a 9 point St. Bernard's lead at their home court.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Winter Festival of Art and Music

If you're feeling a little gloomy outside this mid-winter, come on inside.  The Saint David's Winter Festival of Art and Music is in full swing and our halls are ablaze with vibrant color, music and song.  Below are a few highlights from the 5th Grade Musicale last night and a few pieces of artwork that I managed to take a snapshot of today while moving through the halls.  Tomorrow morning we have the Chamber Singers, Percussion Ensemble and Orchestra.  Following are just a few examples of the incredible art on display this week.

This first clip is a snip-it from the Recorders -- "Coventry Carol."

This second clip is Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" performed by the 5th Grade Bells.

The 2nd Grade Red Grooms inspired murals are definitely worth a look.  They fill an entire classroom, floor to ceiling--spectacular!

"City Scape" 2nd Grade Class Mural inspired by Red Grooms (Art, 2nd Grade).

"Medieval Vehicles" (Woodshop, 3rd Grade).

Van Gogh inspired painting (Art, 5th Grade).

Dali and other Surrealist inspired "Animools"--creative combinations of tools & animals in a unique setting (Art, 8th Grade).

"Nailed Rectangular Frames" (Woodshop, 6th Grade).

"Friendship Portraits" drawings of friends in imaginary settings in black line & watercolor (Art, Omega).
Anthropomorphic Pots inspired by South America moche style (Pottery, 5th Grade).

"Neighborhood Scenes" inspired by (Art, 5th Grade).

"In situ" architectural drawing studies, Cape Cod, MA (Art, 7th Grade).

Jackson Pollock inspired "Marble Paintings" (Art, K).

"Egyptian Figures"--individually created deities inspired by ancient wall paintings (Art, 4th Grade)..

Whimsical "Colorful Castles" inspired by Klee, Hundertwasser, and Gaudi (Art, 3rd Grade).

"Self-Portraits" in watercolor with a focus on color, value and composition (Art, 6th Grade).
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Timeless Boy: Saint David's at 60

This coming February 5th will mark the conclusion of the school's 60th year.  In addition to all the community gatherings to celebrate the 60th anniversary we enjoyed this year, our successfully concluding the largest campaign in the school's history, the boys' commitment to help build a school in Ethiopia, the launch of a new Horizon Summer Program for low-income boys, and a stellar year of teaching and learning, we are concluding this important milestone year with a special publication entitled: The Timeless Boy: Saint David's School at Sixty.

It's in final printing as I write.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Second-Goal Parent

Thursday evening, January 12, 2012, Eric Eisendrath, the Positive Coaching Alliance's (PCA) Lead Trainer for the East Coast spoke with Saint David's parents in Hyman Hall about the Second-Goal Parent.

PCA argues that the second goal of sports parenting--the Second-Goal Parent--is to focus relentlessly on the "big picture." The first goal, striving to win, should be left to the coaches and the athletes.  The focus of the parents should be on the second goal--the big picture focus--building character so children develop into successful, contributing members of society.  By the way, this is also a goal of the school's program.  This big picture view can be conceived of in lots of ways including remaining physically active throughout life, learning to bounce back from difficulties with renewed determination, and discovering how to support others.  Active participation in sports, as we all know, does this--our challenge as schools and especially parents is to not to lose sight of this big picture focus.

Many parents get carried away in youth sports focusing more on preparing the path for their children instead of preparing their children for the path.  Parents need to focus more on endorsing and embracing the competitive process rather than the competitive product.  Comments from parents like, "You're working hard and it's paying off" are far more beneficial than, "How can we fix it?" comments/critiques, for example, in a post game conversation.  Parents and children talking about sports should be viewed as a conversation amongst equals.  Our job, Mr. Eisendrath, a Division One Hockey player for Brown, is to avoid sucking the fun out of it.  One startling statistic Eric reported was that 70% of children quit sports by the time they are 13. Coaches should be coaches, and parents, parents.

A parent's role is to BE THERE and BE HAPPY FOR THEM.

Post Script: For the past several years, as part of the school-wide Curriculum Initiative, Saint David's Athletic Department has been critically reviewing its curriculum.  The school invited the Positive Coaching Alliance to work extensively with its coaches, observing the program and critiquing our coaching methods and practices.  PCA and Saint David's have been working together for several years now in an effort to continually improve best practices.  We have always had a strong program; our work with PCA and our critical review is making us even stronger.

After observing all the coaches during each of our three athletic/sports seasons, the alliance designed specific, targeted professional development workshops for the coaching staff.  Usually occurring on Saturdays, the coaches would go back to school for the workshop.

Two recommended books that came out of the night:

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
Positive Sports Parenting: How "Second-Goal" Parents Raise Winners in Life Through Sports by Jim Thompson

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ethiopia: Year Two Launched

Jack and I Launching Year 2 in the Chapel Friday Morning
Saint David's boys, in recognition of the school's 60th anniversary, resolved to emulate the actions of our founders in supporting the efforts necessary to get Saint David's School off the ground sixty years ago. This past Friday morning in Chapel, Jack M., Student Council President, and I kicked off the second year of this major initiative.

We spoke about the importance of contributing to the greater good and of delayed gratification--of the fact that most good things in the world do not come easily--doing good takes hard work and commitment over time, which is what Saint David's boys have resolved to do. It's not only in keeping with our mission; it's our mission epitomized.
Jack Presenting Ms. O'Hagan and Mr. Donato a Check for the Foundation

Last year, the first of what will probably be several, the boys managed to raise a quarter of the funds necessary to build the school in Ethiopia.  Friday morning after the Chapel ceremony, those monies were presented to Steve Donato from Save the Children and Mimi O'Hagan of Mimi's Building Blocks by the Student Council President on behalf of Colin Johnson, his immediate predecessor, the class of 2011 and all the boys of Saint David's.  Mr. Donato, after thanking the boys assembled in the Hume Library, told them that the money would immediately be sent to Ethiopia where Save the Children and the village elders are ready to literally lay the foundations of the school.

Mrs. O'Hagan speaking with the Boys in Hume
Saint David's has partnered with Save the Children and Mimi's Building Blocks to build a school in Mamet Village in the northern Ethiopian Provence of Tigray.  John Dearie and Tom Ryan also spoke with the boys regarding the school's commitment and its connections to this important initiative.  More information can be found by visiting these prior posts:

Headmaster's Blog: Saint David's: Mission, Milestone and Ethiopia

Headmaster's Blog: A Reflection at the Conclusion of our 60th

Headmaster's Blog: Dollars for Ethiopia Scholars

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Safe and Healthy Choices

I mentioned in my opening letter of the school-year that Saint David's, as a result of our on-going comprehensive curriculum initiative, has further defined our DASH (Drug, Alcohol, Sex and Health) program in the 6th and 8th grades.  In addition to a variety of curricular channels, including homeroom discussions, responsive classroom, daily chapel, religion and DASH classes, we are partnering with a new group that we feel will provide for our boys a very tangible experiential based curriculum that focuses on making safe and healthy choices and decisions.  Prepare Inc. teaches teenagers how to assess and safely manage challenging interpersonal situations.

Our goal here is to connect the boys and their parents to real pressures that boys often face at this age with effective strategies for responding to and managing these pressures.  The new focus of the program is on developing a boy’s ability to set boundaries, identify risk, and respond to real life situations that he could or is likely to encounter, such as: social peer pressure, peer pressure regarding academics, alcohol and other substances, sexual experimentation, street smarts and social messaging.  A small portion of the program will teach basic self-defense skills to be used in an emergency.  The boys will be actively engaged in discussion and dynamic role-play scenarios about topics that are important to them and that they are likely to encounter in their immediate futures.

Sixth and Eighth grade boys and their parents will be participating in a series of classes beginning this month.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Reflection at the Conclusion of our 60th

The celebration of Saint David’s 60th anniversary year was marked by many notable events—the celebratory Mass at St. Ignatius Loyola, the cutting of our huge birthday cake during Founders Week in February, the special edition retro 1951 athletic shirt, a festive anniversary open house for alumni and alumni parents, our commitment to building a school in Ethiopia, the all-school photo in front of 12 East 89th Street capturing the boys and their teachers at a special moment in time and, of course, the stellar year of teaching and learning, to name just a few. The aesthetic, our commitment to seek and find beauty—the essence of life—in all we do, defined the broad parameters of our year. We reminded ourselves that to find beauty we often need to dig below the  surface; we need to be constantly seeking it, so as not to miss it completely.

Community is not so much defined by common or shared belief, but more, by shared action—what we choose to do together. In developing our strategic vision six years ago, the school identified three goals it felt were essential to ensuring the school’s continued success: our ability to attract and retain exceptional teachers, our commitment to socio-economic diversity, and our ability to allocate physical plant resources to meet the growing needs of our program.  We decided to tackle the first two goals immediately while continuing to explore and plan for the third. Never had the school focused a campaign so deliberately on what happens inside the walls of the school—on the teachers and the boys. Combined with the internal Faculty Initiative and the Curriculum Initiative—both major overhauls and enhancements of the professional development, supervision and evaluation programs, and the curriculum, Continuing Our Best Traditions: A Campaign for Saint David’s Teachers and Boys was launched.

Led by Jamie Singleton, Bill Tyree and Joan Rex, the Capital Campaign Committee met monthly for several years developing and executing campaign strategy.  Their tireless efforts on behalf of the boys and the school epitomize our definition of community. Their commitment to achieving the lofty goals of the largest campaign in the school’s history is testimony to the power of shared action. Behind the Capital Campaign Committee stood the Development Committee under the insightful leadership of Allen Sperry and Tom Humphrey, and behind them the support and thoughtful stewardship of the Board, led first by Gene Williams, who helped launch the campaign, and succeeded by Marc Robert ’74, who helped bring it to a most successful conclusion.

Remarkably, our 60th year saw not only the successful closure of the campaign, but also 100 percent participation in our annual fund drive. The attainment of 100 percent participation in the annual fund of any not-for-profit is a notable achievement; to do it twice during a major campaign cycle, is almost unheard of. Led by Aisha Haque, Midge Brogan, and April Shelton, the Annual Fund Committee deserves the collective praise of our community as well. And behind all of these committees is the Development Office of Saint David’s. Led by Maureen Barry with the support of RoseMarie Alfieri, John Dearie ’95, J.P. Hormillosa, and William Rosario, the office rose to the challenge of simultaneously managing two major initiatives without losing the unique spirit of Saint David’s. I find myself these days continually in awe of the personal investment, talent, wisdom, and generosity of all members of the Saint David’s School community. 

Our boys are fortunate indeed. The beauty of our community, the aesthetic of our mission, was on display for all to see in this our 60th year. How proud our founders would be. Excelsior, Saint David’s!