Intentionally Preserving Traditions
Every other summer, I spend some time at Madden’s resort in Brainerd. There, on the grounds, is the ice cream shop that I love, the pontoon boat that we take out on the lake, and the nine hole golf course where every now & then, I take a club to the putting green. All of these things bring back fond memories of family vacations when I was a child. There’s something about familiarity that is not only nostalgic, but brings with it a sense of security and belonging.
Earlier today, I listened to our teachers talk about what’s important in early childhood education. As they described the foundation of our program, a quote by Mr. Rogers appeared on the screen. That same feeling of nostalgia came over me. Years ago, when I was raising my daughter, Mr. Rogers was a source of inspiration. For decades, his message encouraged the power of imagination and the importance of honoring childhood. Today, his legacy is part of the lived experience in our preschool and kindergarten classrooms. What may be thought of as traditional child-rearing beliefs are, in fact, part of the innovation landscape in schools today. Innovative thinking comes from giving children opportunities for play, creativity, and problem-solving. Self-regulation comes from the autonomy children experience in play. Risk-taking is a natural part of a child’s play experience. Competence comes from finally getting that last block to balance and finding a solution for how something works. I love that what has long been part of childhood has returned to the forefront of the way we think about early learning at Breck.
From one year to the next, there are traditions that give Lower School children a meaning-filled experience. The senior/first grade buddy relationship is one of these traditions. Being a P-12 community gives us this opportunity to reinforce friendship and belonging. The annual trip to the apple orchard is the perfect first trip for our preschoolers! It supports the value of children belonging in nature. Watching our fourth graders ‘biddy’ with our youngest children confirms the idea that empathy is built through seeing through the experience of another. Blessing of the Animals is looked forward to each year with great anticipation! Each of these reflects the intentionality behind preserving traditions that have meaning and importance. At the same time, we want the Lower School experience to be transformative and futures-oriented. Our work in mind, brain, education is teaching our students to understand how the brain learns and what they need to be successful learners. It’s exciting to be designing a P-4 curricular sequence in computational thinking, engineering and robotics. We know exposure to these thinking skills will open possibilities for our children’s futures. We practice mindfulness to reshape our brains for higher levels of compassion. Through the path of leadership, our students are learning that their ideas count and their voices have the power to create change in our community.
Walking into classrooms and seeing the engagement of our children makes me incredibly grateful to our teachers and an environment that is thoughtful about learning. I love the idea that tradition, innovation, and transformation co-exist in our children’s experience.
Gaby Hernández '19 and Deirdre O'Neill '19 were recognized in this year's Minnesota Supreme Court Essay Contest. Both students were members of this year's Advanced History Research class studying race and place in the Twin Cities.
Please welcome Mark Garrison as Breck's new Chief Information Officer.