The poet T.S. Eliot famously wrote, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” On a professional and personal note, these words echoed in my mind as I return to Catholic grade school where my own faith and academic formation began at Incarnation School in Glendale, CA over
twenty, thirty, decades a long time ago. My grace-filled exploration through education has led me here to Wilmington, Delaware as a Catholic grade school principal where I am fortunate to rediscover my origins.
Walking in the hallways, I see student drawings of the historical figures they read biographies about and descriptions about their dream jobs. Outside, another daily scene: excited young faces playing kickball and games of tag in the playground. All of these moments capture a characteristic of schools that is often discussed but rarely modeled: play. Physical activity is one thing but when applied to the classroom we ask students to wonder, imagine, create, and innovative in ways that bring curriculum to life. In the right setting, teachers utilize play to develop varying assessments that allow students to apply what they learn to the world around them. Students and teachers alike should be given the literal and proverbial space to play with ideas and lessons and feel safe to explore.
We may live in a world of texts, emojis, and guaranteed 48 hr. delivery, but there is no app for relationships. The joy of engagement on a young boy or girl’s face as they learn and play in a nurturing environment is beyond words. And that is something I will gladly have recur over and over again.
It’s a Great Day to be a Bulldog!