On Spending Time with Family Over Winter Break

While reorganizing my daughter’s room over the weekend, I picked through some of her books on her bookshelf, browsing titles as I took a nostalgic trip down memory lane. As a Ninth Grade student, my daughter Claudia is as likely to download and read books on her phone or tablet as she is to thumb through the pages of a hard cover book. I reached the top shelf and pulled down one of her favorite books from her youth, Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret. In Third Grade, Claudia and her friends read the book in advance of viewing the Martin Scorsese film adaptation Hugo.

I combed through the book and was captivated again by the book’s drawings. Selznick’s illustrations are part magical realism, part builder’s manual, and part science fiction; they are wholly astonishing. I remember as a child creating robots out of radios, mini-helicopters out of spare bicycle parts, and time machines out of car parts. I also remember the wonder and awe on Claudia’s face—and later my son Carlos’—as they read the book as young children, rooted in the world of young Hugo.

One of the quotes from the book reminded me about the ephemeral nature of time—an important character in the story. Selznick writes, “Time can play all sorts of tricks on you. In the blink of an eye, babies appear in carriages, coffins disappear into the ground, wars are won and lost, and children transform, like butterflies, into adults.” As we take a well-deserved rest away from The Bush School during the winter break, time may be the greatest gift we can offer our loved ones, even if they are clamoring for a new iPhone or XBox.

Spending time with our families, reading together, hiking, baking cookies, playing a board game, telling stories, or making crafts and collages creates lasting memories and slows the metamorphosis of our children into adults. Looking back on how much has changed, and how fast Claudia and Carlos have grown, I value the precious and priceless gift of time each day.

I am fortunate that during the school year I get to spend almost six hours a day with your funny, thoughtful, kind, and creative children. We will miss them over the winter break. Please take the next two weeks to enjoy their presence, their humor, and their creativity. Soon, like butterflies, they will transform into adults and fly away.

On behalf of The Bush School family, I wish you a safe and restful winter break.

2017 Survey Results

I am writing to share information from the 2017 Parent/Guardian, Faculty and Staff, and Student surveys. I am grateful to the 750 parents, guardians, students, faculty, and staff who responded to the school surveys, sharing their thoughtful reflections and feedback on their Bush experience.

The data collected from these three surveys provides the school leadership with a unique and comprehensive view of how we are delivering on the school’s mission. The Bush School worked closely with the survey and research company YouGov to administer and analyze the surveys, ultimately sharing the results with school leadership—the Board of Trustees and Administrative Group. As a school that is continuing to improve, the surveys play an important role in informing priorities and planning for the future.

The school’s administrative leadership team has addressed some of the concerns in previous surveys by:
  • increasing personnel across the school for learning and support services—counseling and supporting students with diagnosed learning differences;
  • working with a language consultant to conduct an audit of the world languages program, and to work with faculty to create a plan for instruction, pedagogy, and student assessment;
  • sending a group of faculty, staff, students, and parents to Stanford University’s Challenge Success conference to develop strategies and systems for mitigating  student stress;
  • creating an Academic Dean position to support the continued professional growth of faculty;
  • auditing and re-organizing the Lower School and Middle School math programs;
  • dedicating resources to building a more competitive and mission-consistent athletics program;
  • augmenting programming, staffing, and hardware to support technology infrastructure and curriculum; and
  • creating a Board-level committee—Campus Master Planning—to address long-term facilities needs.
These efforts and initiatives have made Bush a better school. In this communication, I share some of the highlights and key findings from the 2017 surveys.

Resources to Help Children After the Las Vegas Shooting

Dear Bush Community,
My first thought after waking to the tragic news of another mass shooting—this time in Las Vegas, NV—was “how many times can my heart break?” I lay immobile, feeling despondent and helpless. My plans for the morning—a run, coffee with the parent of an alum, and preparing for a series of meetings with faculty, parents, and the new Academic Dean—were put on hold as I walked down the hall to my children’s room and watched as they slumbered—oblivious to the death toll, speculation about and profiles of the alleged shooter, and journalists, first responders, and police officers searching for an explanation that might account for at least fifty-eight lives lost prematurely and senselessly. Watching the covers rise and fall with each breath was a comfort.

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Lifelong Learning and Parent Education

Dear Bush Community,
“The most important factor in any school is the teacher.” —Helen Taylor Bush

One of the pleasures of working in a K-12 school is watching the growth, progress, and maturation of the children in our care; from the timid Kindergarten student exploring letters, sounds, words, and meanings, to the intrepid Twelfth Grade student solving a complex math problem and sharing her discovery with her classmates. As teachers, we relish observing students unlock the mysteries of the world around them.

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