Over the course of this past summer I spent a great deal of time reflecting on the concept at BCD that I find most difficult to quantify: the power of our community. Time and time again, from graduating 8th graders to current families, folks mention the strength of the BCD community as a key component of the education we offer. It’s hard to grasp an objective data point or metric when trying to describe what I’ve come to know and love, so I usually rely on experience to tell our story.
I had a chance to witness this my first year when, during the Boulder Floods of 2013, BCD community members turned up en masse to scoop 5-gallon buckets of debris out of a BCD family’s basement for hours on end. I had moved here from Vermont only two months prior, but I knew from that experience that my family and I would be looked after no matter what the circumstances.
Again last spring we had a similar occurrence. When members of our BCD family learned that one of our own was taking the bus to school, they bonded together and partnered with Christian Brothers Automotive to get the family’s car back on the road.
Our alumni families often stop me in Boulder to share an update on their former BCD students who are now in high school or college. Without fail they mention the unique qualities of our school and the sense of belonging they felt while here. They tell me that other schools don’t have the same bond we do, and they long to feel that way again.
This thing we call community does not come together by happenstance. It requires forethought and intentional planning, and it asks of all of us – faculty, staff, families, students and alumni – to give up a little bit of ourselves for the greater good. We seek to reestablish community annually by frontloading our calendar at the beginning of the school year. From grade level parties to the Back-to-School Bash to new parent gatherings, we seek to nurture a hospitable environment, open communication, and a sense of togetherness that coalesces around the values expressed in our mission and motto. And lastly, We leave our circle open to welcome those on the outside in, knowing that an expansive, inclusive community benefits all members and is especially important for developing traits like empathy and compassion in our children.
Nationwide, independent, parochial, and public schools are trying to capture the magic we call BCD. Admission offices are changing their approach from recruiting students to recruiting families, knowing full well that partnership and shared values foster a healthy and engaged school culture and climate that creates high quality learning environments and better educational outcomes. Social-emotional learning has also gained more prevalence within school curricula in the last several years in support of this goal. Successful schools understand that this learning extends beyond their classrooms and into the hearts and homes of their families through programs like our Parent Education Series.
BCD most certainly did not invent the idea that great schools communities are the result of great partnerships. But, we sure as heck understand its promise and embrace its possibility. As I think about the 2019-20 school year, I am eager to harness the power of community. I want to learn more about the myriad perspectives we hold, the different backgrounds from which we come, and the various beliefs we hold dear. These differences don’t make us weaker; they make us stronger. And, coming together around a shared set of values galvanizes us in a way that allows us to become greater than the sum of our parts. I can’t wait to get started and I hope you’ll join me on September 17th at 8:15am as we begin our school-family partnership at my next Parent Coffee and Conversation.
Coffee and Conversation with John Suitor - September 17, 2019
BCD’s school-family partnership is a bedrock of our community. This fall we will be hosting a series of forums to share our ideas and to learn from you. John Suitor will host the first Parent Coffee and Conversation on Tuesday, September 17th at 8:15am. The topic will be developing and building community. We value the interactions our parents have with each other and with the school and we have over 40 new families to welcome into our Bulldog Family. Setting the foundation for the year with intention around community, support and parent partnership is our goal for this event.