Perspiration, Aspiration, Hibernation, and Imagination

Last week I started a conversation about the Aspirations Framework as an entry point into deepening support of students. The framework includes a profile consisting of four elements: perspiration, aspiration, hibernation, and imagination.
  • Perspiration: Working hard in the present without any connection to a future dream.
  • Aspiration: Having a dream for the future and being inspired in the present to work toward that dream.
  • Hibernation: Having neither a future dream nor the inspiration to make any effort in the present.
  • Imagination: Dreaming about the future, but being uninspired to work in the present toward that dream.
As I mentioned last week, our goal is to create and sustain an environment where everyone espouses an Aspiration Profile. We will engage students and faculty in conversations covering the eight conditions for building an Aspirations Framework: Belonging, Heroes, Sense of Accomplishment, Fun and Excitement, Curiosity/Creativity, Spirit of Adventure, Leadership/Responsibility, and Confidence to Take Action.
I will devote upcoming bulletin letters to updating the community about our progress with implementing these conditions, and in doing so, will invite comments and questions along the way. I have a great deal of optimism in our faculty and students’ ability to create and sustain an energetic learning environment that encompasses hopes and dreams, as well as opportunities in the present to attain those hopes and dreams.
As we head into finals and the subsequent Thanksgiving break, I want you all to keep in mind your aspirations for the winter term.
I look forward to future conversations.

Aspirations Framework and Student Voice

During Convocation, Percy announced the theme for the year – Purpose. In the Upper School, it is clear from many conversations with faculty that their purpose is connected to working with students inside and outside of the classroom. Several summers ago, the faculty and I read Student Voice, The Instrument for Change by Russell Quaglia and Michael Corso. This book inspired us to help students find their voice and purpose through intentional engagement. Given our theme for the year, I find the text once again strikes a chord.
After re-reading Student Voice recently, I am further convinced that the aspirations framework serves as a blueprint for our continued work with students. This framework suggests that every student has the ability to dream about the future and be inspired in the present to get there. The diagram below presents four profiles of common mindsets:
Our goal as an Upper School community is to cultivate an aspirations mindset in all of our students. The essential component in this effort is to provide many ways to inspire students in the present. The aspirations framework has three guiding principles that support student aspirations: self-worth, engagement, and purpose.
Supporting self-worth and promoting student engagement are key to helping students find purpose. When young people are confident and engaged in activities that they are passionate about, they make discoveries about themselves and spark lifelong habits, learning to work in the present towards goals for the future.
I encourage you to read Student Voice in the near future as a way to gain greater insight into how the faculty and I are approaching our work with students. I also invite you to join me for upcoming Roundtables (parents and students) as a vehicle for you to share your perspectives.

Culmination of Fall Term

As we enter the final few weeks of the term, students will sharpen their focus on completing assignments and assessments to the best of their ability and understanding. The faculty will make themselves available during conference blocks to provide support for students needing additional explanation of a concept or clarity on an essay.
This time of the term also presents the culmination of co-curricular programs that have been a source of engagement for students. This week marks the opening of the school play, The Tempest. The cast has put in long hours preparing for this week and, by many accounts, will present a fantastic play. I look forward to seeing the students perform their parts with precision and emotion. We also have many of our sports teams vying for playoff spots as we head into the final stages of the fall season. Our girls’ soccer team lost a tough match which eliminated them from the further matches. The girls’ volleyball team advanced to the league playoffs and district playoffs with a convincing win against Forest Ridge earlier this week.
These are several examples of students contributing additional time on endeavors that make them feel whole. We are well aware that students attend The Bush School for academic preparation, but along their journey in the Upper School, many find a passion that helps to balance their time between academics and co-curricular commitments.
As the term concludes with final exams in a couple of weeks, I also want to invite all of you to Venue on Saturday, November 18 at 6:00 p.m. This is the culminating requirement for all of our music classes. The night will be filled with original work created by our students in music class, as well as other students who have written songs specifically for Venue. I look forward to seeing all of the performers bask in the limelight of their musical genius. This evening also intersects with Upper School Teen Feed who will be serving a dinner buffet from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Commons to raise money for the Bush Teen Feed team’s monthly meal.
Yes, the fall term is nearing an end, and students and faculty are doing their best to arrive at the finish line with calm and balance. I do want to remind all of us of the importance to take care of ourselves—mind, body, and spirit.