Not all of my days are like the ones I experienced between Wednesday, April 4th and Thursday, April 12th. A Head of School’s life often features a wide variety of activities and a dose of the unexpected, but rarely does it pack the type of stimulating public events the Parish community and I had a chance to be enriched by this month.
On April 4th, we welcomed Barbara P. Bush to campus. This social entrepreneur – who also happens be both the granddaughter and daughter of a President – was honored by Austin College with their Posey Leadership Award. As part of the events associated with that recognition – and through our partnerships with both the Dallas Fort Worth World Affairs Council and Austin College – we were able to bring Ms. Bush to campus to talk about global leadership. Though I had never done it before, I survived my initiation as a “talk show host!” One special facet of the event, held in our new Gene E. Phillips Activity Center, was the presence of over 100 students and teachers from 11 public, charter, independent, and private schools – representatives of their respective schools’ Junior World Affairs Councils. They were joined in the audience by our Upper School students and faculty. Ms. Bush’s insights on the powerful influence of early global travel experiences; the fearlessness required to start something, as she did in helping found the Global Health Corps and her core value of love as the fuel for her global service left a deep impression on me and the other audience members. You can watch excerpts from the interview with Ms. Bush here.
On April 5th, I was one of a handful of local educators asked to participate in “Big Ideas in Education Entrepreneurship” as part of Dallas Start Up Week. I so enjoyed meeting the entrepreneurs who came to hear 5 minute presentations from me and my fellow educational leaders on our “Big Ideas” for education. These individuals, many of whom were in the educational technology space, possessed the shining eyes resultant of doing creative work which challenged and inspired them. These are just the kind of shining eyes I love to see on our students’ faces when I visit the classrooms at Parish! I also admire the comfort with ambiguity these founders exhibit. These entrepreneurs have a vision – an idea they believe needs to be brought to life and will serve the world well – but are not entirely certain of what their platform will look like in its final form. As we explore advancements to our program at Parish – a new model for independent school education which both prepares students for the complex world while preserving their well-being and love of learning – I recognize that we, too, as a school community, must remain full of wonder. The “Big Idea” I shared that evening reflected much of what I wrote in my October 2017 blog post.
Finally, on April 12th, our community welcomed author and TED-talk star Julie Lythcott-Haims. The former freshman dean at Stanford University and author of How to Raise An Adult, helped us launch CenterED, our partnership with The Grant Halliburton Foundation. I blogged about this partnership in January and our intent through it to marry our school community’s commitment to build an even healthier preparatory academic experience for our students with the Foundation’s expertise in adolescent mental health and wellness. “Dean Julie,” as she was affectionately known by her students at Stanford, affirmed Parish’s direction; commended the unique partnership between Parish and the Halliburton Foundation; and energized a large audience of parents in her evening keynote to stop trying to construct the path their children will follow. You can hear the panel discussion between Dr. Lythcott-Haims, Halliburton co-Founder and Executive Chairman Vanita Halliburton, and me here.
Parish embraces our role as a thought leader in the education community – as an institution that contributes to stimulating conversation, discussion, and action around positive change in the learning experience for today’s students. In this context, the week between April 4th and April 12th was an amazing one in the history of our School.