Superman?

When I was about 17 years old, I had a very young neighbor who once told me that when I took off my glasses, I reminded her of Superman (when he changes from Clark Kent to The Man of Steel).

All of my life, I guess I have bought into what this young girl told me.  I have had this need to protect those around me, work as hard as I can to get things done regardless of the task, or even to come “save the day” when things were not going well.  This feeling of responsibility has happened in sports, in my family life with my immediate family back in Texas, and in each role I have played as an educator.  In other words, I think I have developed this “Superman Complex.”

When I got sick last week, I heard from so many people, especially my mother and my wife, “You’re not Superman!”  “You need to rest and heal.”  “Don’t worry; things at work will be well taken care of.”

I cannot believe how a small microorganism like bacteria, can knock me back down to earth.  Everyone, including Superman, has a weakness.  More importantly, everyone, including Superman needs help and support from those around him.  Over the past few days I have been calling on all of the tremendous educators with whom I work to do parts of my job for me.  I have had to learn to trust them to do the job they are all very capable of doing, even in my absence.  Knowing how much they support me and the belief they have in your children has allowed me to stay home being fully confident that all at school is going well.

More importantly, the numerous emails and phone calls I have received from all of you and numerous students and Faculty have helped me to feel better.  The road to recovery has been slow, but with the support of my colleagues and friends, it has been manageable.

After all, if you know the Superman story, even he realized that one person cannot do everything.  He helped to form the Justice League, a group of superheroes who worked together to save the world.

The Faculty at King are the other members of my Justice League.  But really, in the end, I am not Superman.  I am just a Head of Middle School who is able to do the job he can because of all of the wonderful people who surround him daily.

Thank you for all of your support over this past week.  Happy Spring Break!!

Bobby

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School Pride

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend an Upper School assembly.  The students and Faculty gathered to have an honest discussion about solving some recent issues that arisen in the Upper School.

I was moved as I listened to a few students get up and talk about what they loved most about King.  Others stood and addressed the audience and talked about how to improve open dialogue at School.  It was impressive to see that students and Faculty spoke about how best to improve Upper School life.

Anyone associated with our School would have been so pleased to witness this assembly.  While there were many ways to state one’s opinion, I noticed a few themes prevalent in most comments.  The School that so many of us have grown to love is founded upon the following principles:

  • Creating and maintaining a trusting community
  • Displaying mutual respect between students and Faculty
  • Taking responsibility for one’s actions
  • Having a sense of pride in being at King

Listening to so many former Middle School students, students new to King since Upper School, and my Upper School colleagues made me feel honored to be at a school that has been deeply grounded in a great sense of who it is.  The passion that was evident in each comment yesterday was inspiring.

I am even more confident that this school that sits at 1450 Newfield Avenue is a very special place.  I have known this since I moved here in 2005.  Attending that US assembly yesterday simply confirmed what I cherish most about King, and I will now feel even greater pride when I wear my King attire in public and show all of Fairfield County where I work.

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Being Fully Committed

I need to write to all of you to express a growing concern that I am seeing at School.

This sports season has seen more students, than in previous years, missing practices and games because of other commitments.  It appears that we receive an email, handwritten note, or phone call to pull a child from his/her sports team.   At times, we have even had the students themselves try to get out of sports by reporting a previously undiagnosed injury, to study with a teacher who does not coach, or because they simply do not want to attend sports that day.

At King, Athletics in the Middle School is mandatory.  The concept of improving as a team, building team cohesion and a collective team identity is seriously compromised when it is very rare that the entire team practices together.  Fully developing the skills to be a better competitor in a chosen sports is difficult if a child routinely misses practices and games.  To coach a team that rarely has all members present is even more difficult.  To be competitive with other schools, we have divided the students as best we can (by skill level in some cases) to field the best overall teams we can.  Many times this year we have had to borrow players from other teams to simply have enough players to compete or we have had to play without several players, resulting in some very unpleasant loses (as reported by some of the students to me and/or their coaches).

I am fully aware that circumstances arise where a child is not in school, or they have to leave early.  I ask that these instances are reported to the school as early as possible so the teachers and coaches can be aware the child will be out.  I would hope that our school sports get the same level of commitment as outside of school sports teams.  Generally our schedule is created far enough in advance to help coordinate multiple schedules.  Most teachers will work with a child (and a parent) to ensure proper study time before a test or general extra help to accommodate the athletic schedule.  Pulling a child from a practice to meet with teachers or having them miss a game to meet with a teacher, again, creates a big issue for the teams.

I believe there is always room to compromise.  My hope is that whenever a pressing situation arises, parents, students, and coaches (and the teachers in some situations) are working to find a solution that is not always a “pull them out of sports” response.  Again, I have never seen as many students miss sports as I have this school year.  I hope that by writing to you we have a better Spring season with the students fully committing to their Athletics’ responsibilities.  The Teachers and I will do our part in the Middle School to support the students and the Athletics department.

Bobby

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Claudia Segneri’s Return

There is nothing like having a serendipitous encounter turn into something incredibly meaningful and positive.

Shortly before the Winter Holiday began, my family and were in Target (in Stamford) where my three children eagerly told me what they were hoping to get for Christmas.  As we walked down the isles filled with board games, remote controlled cars, iPods, and nerf guns, I bumped into Claudia Segneri, who expressed an interest in returning to King as our Director of Assessment and Instruction.

When Dianna Tucker told me she was going to return to Florida, I immediately called Ms. Segneri, who was more than happy to accept her former role.

I am so happy we talked that day.

Since her return, Mrs. Segneri has been working with students, calling parents, coming up with plans for students to ensure greater success in the classroom, worked with teachers on appropriate ways to challenge all students, and she has been a person I can speak with about many topics.  Her relentless drive to help all of our students has been exemplary.  Her expertise in supporting teacher and learning efforts at King has continued to impress me.

I am very grateful for all of her hard work.  She welcomes the opportunity to work with all students, so please do not hesitate to contact her.  I can guarantee you that she will be more than willing to help you.

Bobby

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The King Community

Since the start of the new year, we have entertained many prospective students and hosted countless tours in the Middle School.  Whenever I get the opportunity, I will meet up with Mr. Carson, who is usually giving the tour, so that I may introduce myself to these families and to the students.

Last week, there was a family out in the Atrium  preparing to head out on a tour.  Once I joined Mr. Carson and this family, the Middle School students were transitioning from class to a Flex period.  As you can imagine, the Atrium became very loud and lively.  I apologized for the increased noise level, but the father of the family, looked around, and exclaimed to me, “But this is reason why we would like to send our son to King.”

This father, his wife and his son could feel the energy in the room.  King students were cordially speaking with each other (in very loud voices), but the father simply saw students positively interacting.  Later, two teachers walked into the Atrium at this point.  The parents on the tour were blown away by how easily students and Faculty related to each other.

I was very proud that this family got a small glimpse into the King community.  Students and Faculty interacting with each other are simply the way things are here.  As a matter of fact, these relationships form the backbone of our program.  When these relationships are strong, students (and their parents) feel supported, and feeling supported helps students find success.

We will continue to build the best community we can be.

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7th grade history

I wanted to share with all of you a class that I saw Tuesday morning.

I walked into Mr. Brumskill’s grade 7 history class.  The students were finishing up a documentary on the American Revolution when I entered.  Mr. Brumskill quickly connected the video to the material they had been studying about the British views of the colonists during the 1770s.  He was quickly engaging all of the students in the conversation and getting the students to see connections from their own lives on how differing groups can misunderstand each other’s actions and motives.

I was most impressed as he shifted gears to give the students time to work on a group project.  The project was based on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech entitled, “The Four Freedoms.”

  • Freedom from Want
  • Freedom from Fear
  • Freedom of Speech
  • Freedom of Worship

The students were writing questions about current events that related to these four freedoms.  The topics ranged from the Occupy Wall Street Movement, to public versus private education and even the debate on building a mosque near Ground Zero.  The depth of their questions, the insightfulness of their reflections on each question and their high level of engagement with this project was quite impressive.

However, I was truly pleased with the fact that the students had to ask these questions to adults in their lives.  Students were planning to ask Faculty members, Administrators, parents, grandparents and even neighbors.  Every chance students get to see that learning takes place in areas beyond the classroom strengthens their understanding of a topic.  Connecting students with the adults in their lives keeps ongoing and necessary conversations going on that extend far beyond school topics.

I cannot wait to see the results of this project.  Not just the presentation of their findings, but how much they will have learned from their research and their interviews.

I love the educational opportunities our students have at King.Bobby

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