Like my colleagues, I am often asked about what draws me to the boarding school lifestyle, and more specifically the secondary school level. People wonder why someone would choose to live in a 24/7 environment with young people. For me, it is a call to live and work in service to others. I embrace the opportunity to cultivate a community that promotes sharing and personal development.
The size of our school, with its students, faculty, staff, family and extended members, is a key component. New Hampton provides a community size, composition, and structure that allows us to know each other well, to display talents and interests, and the space to share oneself fully in order to deepen our individual and community-wide relationships.
As we prepare to break for the Thanksgiving Holiday, I find myself reflecting on how we share ourselves with each other and the impact these experiences have on our community.
Our theatre program’s recent production of Peter and the Starcatcher was a powerful example of sharing theatrical talents, both on-stage and off. It also represented a platform for some students—and adults—to try something new. Their willingness to share in this opportunity demonstrates this community ideal of taking healthy risks, trying something new or challenging, and following it through.
Sharing a Home
My wife and I continue hosting our monthly “senior dinners”. In this intimate setting around our dining room table at Smith House, we have experienced wonderful moments for even close friends to learn something new about each other. Some facts might be trivial, such as Marcus having never eaten a granny smith apple before, or Com sharing his commitment to his country through the Thai Scholars Program. There are also numerous accounts of the role New Hampton has played in our students’ personal growth, and, more importantly, as development for people of character and purpose.
On the courts during the recent Hoopla event, we kicked off basketball season by sharing the athletic talents of our men’s and women’s teams. A high-flying dunk contest and a spirited three-point shootout and skills contest put on display individual talents that connected students to each other. To our players, the cheering and spirit of the event also conveyed the community’s support for what they bring to our school.
One final example was last week’s Voices of New Hampton gathering, a series hosted several times each year, where students and faculty share a story. For this event, they shared what they were thankful for. These presentations highlight personal stories, and there is a level of raw, transparent vulnerability that unites and inspires us all. Whether we take away a new drive to attack each day with purpose, or to live with gratitude and appreciation, the lessons we learn through each other’s stories are powerful.
So, why do my colleagues and I pursue this work? We seek and welcome the rewards provided through collaboration with talented and diverse professionals. We are united in an effort to help young people grow. We are kept young at heart by the balance of work and play that exists in our community, and who are willing to share their personal and professional experiences to enrich our connections to each other, our students, and our mission to develop lifelong learners who will become active global citizens. To share our lives so personally in this community is an honor, and it is our calling.