Over the past year people have asked whether I will be retiring after leaving AISB; my answer is that I will be ‘graduating’, finally.
|26 Sep 2019|
|WM Summer 2019 Celebrating Family Connections|
My schooling was spent at a very traditional British school, founded on Michaelmas Day 1561, situated on the banks of the Thames opposite the Tower of London; rather à propos in retrospect. From my perspective, not much seemed to have changed when I entered years later.
Uniform, of course, was mandatory; as a tender 11 year old and ‘new boy’, we had to wear shorts throughout the year as it was deemed that we had not reached the stage when long trousers could be worn; chapel was twice a day; the cane was regularly used to encourage us to learn; Latin was the essential language; masters wore academic gowns; and, we never spoke until spoken to.
The school was a battle of wills, these were the sixties after all; the concept of empathetic learning was a far-off concept; thirty boys per class; seating order based upon tests scores; cross-country running in shorts and t-shirt, was held in the depths of winter; rugby and cricket de rigueur; soccer was banned, being ungentlemanly; and, caps needed to be doffed at all times.
The concept of community or school family was not envisioned; after graduating early, I vowed never to return nor read any alumni material; and, I never did.
Times, since then, have changed; so dramatically that my school seems a far-off place, lost in time. Being highly selective, I read recently that it was ranked amongst the better performing academic schools in the country. But it was also criticized, and even threatened with legal action, for policies that led to students being excluded from the sixth form for not achieving high enough grades. Seems like things, still have not changed too much.
So what makes a school community strong, rather than one just focused on academics to the detriment of everything else? To me, the answer is rather simple, but difficult to achieve – teamwork between all stakeholders, be they parents, students, teachers, staff, Board members or business partners. Great achievement data that shows student growth but is just one star in the constellation of community success.
Developing a strong program that places a high emphasis on students being kind, considerate, honest and sets schools apart.
A strong community needs an active PTO and Alumni Association, with highly engaged volunteers, whose impact reaches beyond the confines of the school; where solutions are found for perennial contractible issues and positive stories abound. We have made many changes over the past years, a focus on building community with a strong alumni association will leave an even greater legacy.
Dr. Robert Brindley has graduated into retirement at the time of publishing, this is his far ewell message to the WM Alumni Community.
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