Self-worth, Engagement, and Purpose

As I mentioned in a November bulletin, I will devote periodic communications to sharing the Aspirations Framework and its applicability to the Upper School. Within the Aspirations Framework, there are three guiding principles that support students’ aspirations: self-worth, engagement, and purpose. As an Upper School, we will collectively work to implement these principles as the year progresses.
Self-worth occurs when students know they are uniquely valued members of the school community; have a person in their lives they can trust and learn from; and believe they have the ability to achieve—academically, personally, and socially. (Student Voice, pg. 23-24) I believe that when students’ self-worth is high, amazing actions occur. There have been countless moments when students have exclaimed meaningful connections with their teachers, or feel like they have an adult or peer they trust. However, there have been moments when students have expressed feeling disconnected from the community, or feeling that they cannot thrive socially and/or academically. These moments are sparked by a variety of possibilities—learning styles, racial differences, special interests, etc. As a school community, we will work to mitigate these instances in an expeditious manner. If students are not feeling seen, valued, or heard, it will be difficult for them to achieve at their highest levels.
Engagement happens when students are deeply involved in the learning process as characterized by enthusiasm, a desire to learn new things, and a willingness to take positive, healthy steps toward the future. Students are meaningfully engaged when they are emotionally, intellectually, and behaviorally invested in learning. (Student Voice, pg. 24) The faculty and I are in ongoing conversations about engendering engagement in the classroom. We are exploring ways to deliver daily lesson plans that take different learning styles, intercultural fluency, experiential education, and creativity into account. In addition, each teacher has a special sauce that defines their teaching style. When students feel a connection to the material, personalized meaning and curiosity develops. This curiosity provides fuel for future exploration and ultimately a goal for life after Bush.
Purpose exists when students take responsibility for who and what they are becoming. This involves not only choosing a career, but also deciding to be involved, responsible members of their community. Purpose is as much about who students want to be as it is what they want to do. (Student Voice, pg. 24) The beauty of The Bush School lies within its roots in progressive and experiential education. We believe that students must experience education. In doing so, they will learn pertinent information as well as the nuances of each discipline and its application to society. By bridging the classroom to the world beyond Bush, students make discoveries that awaken a passion for making a difference. There are many students who refuse to sit idle when it comes to interrupting behaviors that promote dysfunction within our school and in their local communities.
I am encouraged by the possibilities that lie ahead for the Upper School. Our students, faculty, and parents/guardians will have a myriad of opportunities to contribute to our aspiration of making sure we are all seen, valued, and heard. My next letter on the Aspirations Framework will delve deeper into the 8 Conditions that Make a Difference (Student Voice, pg. 24). I invite any parent/guardian to come in for a cup of coffee to chat further about the Aspirations Framework and its meaning for the Bush Upper School. Students and faculty will have opportunity during advisory, class meetings, and Monday Morning Meetings.

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