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From the Head of School: The Waterford Way

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Andrew Menke, Head of SchoolAt Monday morning’s assembly I, along with Upper School students, enjoyed a breathtaking performance by Class XII student Sarah Shipp of Chopin’s Scherzo in B flat minor.

It was one of those gatherings, moved from the 600 building to the Concert Hall to make room for the ever popular Book Fair, that wove together the routine – a few announcements about college visits and a thoughtful, yet direct, reminder about appropriate audience behavior – with the awe-inspiring. It is the Waterford Way, the practical abutting the sublime.

As we shift to a season where connection to one another assumes deeper meaning, I am reminded that the power of learning intensifies as a result of shared experience.

Sarah Shipp will play at Carnegie Hall on December 17.  But as accomplished as she is at the seat of a piano, Sarah remains poised, polite, thoughtful and kind – and in this she represents a Waterford ideal.

At our school, achievement does not come at the expense of others; quite the contrary. In the company of others, Waterford students experience greater success. Sarah is much more than a piano virtuoso as she personifies the centerpiece of our mission: “Learning is enhanced by the recognition of responsibility… Accountability for one’s learning further encourages the realization that learning is inherently communal and connected: that students and faculty are in it together. Though one can become accomplished as one’s own teacher, learning necessarily occurs in the context of other persons, their ideas and voices, historical and contemporary. Learning is therefore invariably indebted.”

Waterford students humbly pursue lives of continual growth and recognize that their journeys are profoundly impacted by shared experience. Reciprocity is reflexively practiced; as each student rises, they contribute back to those who lifted them up. Learning is most rewarding through recognition of this dynamic and active and purposeful participation in the exchange.

Waterford endeavors to nurture the character of each person, cultivating the capacity to stretch, grow, explore and excel. It’s what I love about our work together.  Collectively we partner to shape a generation of citizens who will lead this nation and this world forward. And while we value individuality, we know that the success of each of us is dependent on the support of all of us.  It is this nobility of purpose – the sanctity of the cooperative educational endeavor, that is our reason for being and which we revere and hold in trust.  

As we enjoy a season of gratitude, there is no greater gift than that of a sharp mind and tender heart to pursue a life of fulfilling impact.