Monday, April 16, 2012

Statement from Head of Upper School, Jordan E.

Today's student leadership retreat represented the best of OES for me; high-level conversation between students and adults about substantive issues in the school.  The retreat began with the discovery that we needed to reflect on the organizational structure, effectiveness, and goals of Student Council.  To accomplish that, we focused on issues at play in this conversation and principles necessary for guiding us to agreement.  Early on, it felt that we might be unable to achieve our goal of wrapping up the day with concrete next steps but, in fact, this early realization guided us through a process that built consensus on how we will go forward.  Throughout the day it was very fulfilling to me to participate in a conversation where every student and faculty member contributed.  The list of issues and principles earned a high level of agreement where everyone indicated that, at least, they could support them publicly and most felt that they "will do whatever it takes" to make them happen.  From there, inspired and guided by the many proposals students submitted, we set a course where the students elected to next year's Student Council are charged with implementing the principles in a new constitution and bylaws.

An underlying issue in this whole conversation was the critique that I have predetermined the outcome of this topic.  I was grateful for the students naming this concern so that we could address it together today.  While it is flattering that people believe I have the wherewithal to pull off such a conspiracy, what actually happened is that, with the help of an impartial facilitator, we authentically collaborated to create this set of next steps.  I am proud to be a member of today's discussion and am confident that the fruits of our work truly represent the consensus of all the ideas given voice.  I leave today with the strong belief that there is a shared feeling amongst everyone present that our work this year and the charge for next year will serve students and better OES.  I am eager to continue!

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