Dear Blake Families:
I hope everyone was able to enjoy the three day Memorial Day weekend. Our family had a nice few days, spending time with family and friends while also finding some necessary 'down time'. After a very busy four days in D.C. with the students, it was great to be able to 'give in' and simply relax. In fact, sleeping until almost 9 a.m. on Saturday shocked the whole family!
Our trip to Washington, D.C. was a great success and I found myself once again proud to be a part of the Blake community. Throughout the week and at each site, tour guides, chaperones, and hosts remarked upon our students' respect, maturity, character, and kindness. I would like to also extend a sincere and heartfelt thank you to all of our chaperones for their care and support of the students throughout the week: Eileen Hurley, Kelly Dengos, Ellen McConnell, Jason Heim, Erin Kearney, Jen Dondero, Seth Hellerstein, Cynthia McClelland, Kristen Kirby, Sara Callahan, Jim Cousens, Mike Gibbs, Alex Zwillinger, Tricia Williams, Mark Nickerson, and Tom Woods.
As noted above I tried to 'unplug' and catch up on time with family this weekend, but a few reflections from the week I feel are worthy of passing along. Throughout the trip we were able to visit many memorials, sites, and museums, and at each visit I was reminded of the great thinking and sense of connectedness that is a part of our history. It was great to see the students asking questions, making connections to the lessons they have learned, and really taking time to listen and process with one another. There are certainly thematic thread lines that could tie each of our stops together, but one that stood out for me in particular is that of innovation (establishing a memorial, significant points in history, decision making, Air and Space museum, etc.). With this in mind I have posted an article of interest from the Harvard Business Review entitled 'Great Innovators Think Laterally'. The authors, Ian Gonsher and Deb Mills-Scofield, share in this brief post the importance of exploring 'lateral thinking': "...the ability to move horizontally across different categories of thought, often manifests itself as a synthesis between seemingly incongruent ideas." We often spend time encouraging students to think critically and to 'think outside of the box' and I believe this idea of 'lateral thinking' is worthy of pursuit for our students as well. The idea is that these innovators moved beyond traditional lines of thinking in a creative manner to expand the realm of possibility. Each year a theme is established for our school and next year's theme will be 'Creativity'. I am excited about the prospect of areas to explore as a community as we broaden our understanding of the creative process with our students and one another: "The creative process is just that: a process. Recognizing value that others have missed doesn't require preternatural clairvoyance. A well-honed creative process enables us to intuitively recognize patterns and use those insights to make inductive predictions about divergent ideas, both vertically within categories, and horizontally across categories. By understanding the genealogy of innovation within a given category, we can imagine what might come next. We need to break out of thinking that is solely based on what we know, what we assume, and what we've experienced. Many of us are so entrenched in our industries that we don't know how to think laterally or horizontally. We usually go a mile deep but only an inch wide. We haven't given our people and ourselves the time and opportunities to explore other industries, cultures designs, ways of being and doing, and other 'adjacent possibilities'." This is certainly a noble goal and one worthy of pursuit.
I also want to pass along a clip that Tracy Allen shared with me at the end of this week, Keep Movin' On, a song written by three students at Currey Ingram Academy in Brentwood, TN to serve as inspiration for others in response to the Boston Marathon bombings. I think it is an excellent reminder of the hope, care, and perseverance we can find from our children and students. This week I will be finalizing our School Improvement Plan for 2013-2014, and I will be keeping the ideas of 'lateral thinking' and 'lessons from students/youth' in mind to help center my focus. I hope you will be able to do the same over the next few weeks as we approach the last month of this academic year.
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