Last week I received the results from an independent school survey that was recently conducted by an outside organization. The organization that conducted the survey also shared Trinity-Pawling’s isolated survey results, which I shared with our faculty just before departing for the Thanksgiving vacation. This is a small sampling of the student statements that scored particularly high for Trinity-Pawling:
“I feel that I gain meaningful positive value from being a member of the School community.”
“I feel that I make a meaningful positive contribution to the experience of others within the School community.”
“I feel well-supported at school as I strive to meet my potential.”
“My school experience has helped me learn to engage constructively with people holding different perspectives from my own.”
“There is at least one trusted adult I can talk to at school.”
In the book Connect, psychologist Edward Hallowell writes of the critical importance of relationships in human development. He explains that human beings are driven by two powerful forces — the desire to achieve and the desire to connect with others. Today’s fast-paced culture, illustrated in part by the pervasiveness and potential anonymity created by technology and multi-tasking, has created conduits toward achievement that can overshadow the need for connectivity between individuals.
Hallowell argues that our changing culture can potentiate an escalating disconnect between people, leading to possible emotional and social distress. He cites the home and school as two key areas to enhance connectedness among youth in our culture. Hallowell cites studies that have shown that students who state they feel connected to their school and to their peers have a much healthier developmental profile. Those who claim to be disconnected, conversely, have been shown to fall into a profile characterized by higher degrees of depression and anxiety.
Clearly, schools play a vital role in our society. They are not only the places where young people learn to be successful and productive citizens, but they are the places where they learn how to navigate the waters of socialization. They work through this with the help of their peers; but, adults, especially teachers, play a pivotal role in this process as well. Schools can be dynamic, healthy places where important human connectivity is fostered and nurtured.
At Trinity-Pawling, we strive to be a school of connectivity and to create a school culture where the relationships between students and teachers are strong, healthy, and shared. We aspire to nurture a community that is enriched by its diversity, inclusiveness, and awareness of belonging.
An interdisciplinary curriculum encourages students to see the connection between ideas and their mutual influence on different areas of study and in the practical world outside of the classroom. Through a commitment to a holistic approach to education, Trinity-Pawling creates connections between the various venues of learning: the classrooms, the athletic fields, co-curricular events, and the chapel. As an Episcopal school, Trinity-Pawling seeks to emphasize the connection between each student and their God-given gifts and talents.
We recognize that our goal of fostering a culture of connectivity and belonging will always be an operative force in the School. Our goal of a connected school culture, however, will continue to be a pervasive commitment at Trinity-Pawling.
I am thankful for your support of our goals and mission. It is an honor and a privilege to be on this journey with our students, their families, and my colleagues.