Dear Hilltopper Community,

Schools are busy places; this is particularly true of Marshall. In the midst of all the projects, practices, performances, and progress, it is important to occasionally remind ourselves of why we came together as an educational community in the first place. This year, I invite you to join me in these emails once a month to examine some of the fundamentals that make Marshall, Marshall. I hope we can start that discussion here and continue it as a community in person. We are special—and strong—because of the values and the people who make up our community.

Kind regards,


Baseball, Humility, and Education

In my first year of teaching, I coached baseball and felt I knew the game fairly well. That summer, I attended a Chicago White Sox game with Jay Barry, a former college player and our head varsity coach. At that game, I realized I knew much less about baseball than I had previously thought. Jay really knew baseball. He nudged me at one point and asked, "Did you see that?" To which I replied, "No, nothing happened."


Expressing some disappointment, Jay explained that something significant had happened; the shortstop had taken a step to his right meaning that Jack McDowell was going to throw "something off speed." Sure enough, the ace pitcher threw a change-up, and Jay explained the significance of throwing that pitch in that situation. Wow! I thought. Who knew there was so much intentionality in each detail? What a lesson in humility! Until that moment, I was satisfied with my understanding of the game; now I was excited to learn and appreciate baseball at an entirely different level.


In the first of these community conversations last month, I promised a year-long series of essays inspired by our Mission Statement. Already, I am writing about an ideal I would add to our Mission Statement. Education and humility go hand-in hand, which is the reason each one is so important. So, when I am asked what one word I would add to our Mission Statement, I always say "humility," thinking more of the function of humility than the denotation of the word. In other words, it is not that I am advocating for modesty—important as that may be; instead, I am acknowledging that moments of humility provide us with the best opportunity to gain new understandings.


So how do we provide for humility in a world that has such little use for it? How do we ask our students to embrace the vulnerability of humility? Especially at a time when asking for humility seems counter-intuitive and dangerous? If anything, our tendency is to rescue students from moments where humility and vulnerability are on display—a parental instinct to be sure. Permit me to return to sports metaphor to provide one rationale:


If a high school athlete has played the same position for ten years, and the coach moves the athlete to a new position, that now vulnerable athlete may just "see" the entire game differently. If so, that athlete will inevitably enter into a period of learning and discovery that has been absent for some time. Who wouldn't want a steeper learning curve for a child? Nonetheless, our instinct is to fear the risk and request that the athlete stay in the position which provides the most comfort.


I believe it is only from a humble place that we embrace and commit to acquiring new understandings. When we are complacent in our own beliefs, when we arm ourselves exclusively with arguments that support our own views, we fail to model the humility and the readiness which enables new discoveries. If, as adults, we can accept that we have more to learn, and then set out to acquire deeper knowledge, then we will be modeling for our children the condition necessary to gain new understandings.


As parents, we worry about our children's ability to navigate this hectic world, and we worry about the very world in which we live. As Marshall Parents, we believe we must arm our children with a great education in preparation for that world. Therefore, we must also be comfortable with humility and vulnerability, as these are the precursors to new understandings, and it is those new understandings which will lead us forward and help us find common ground.



(c) 2018 Marshall School 

Unsubscribe from this eNotice.