Dear Hilltopper Community,


Thank you for joining this monthly conversation, and thank you for providing feedback on the most recent essay. As always, I welcome your thoughts on this topic as well.

Kind regards,


Our Good Faith Covenant

Over the holidays, I read an interview with a retired educator. The interview focused on his observations of two significant changes in schools since he first accepted a leadership position in 1976. He listed the connection between brain science and learning as the most significant improvement during that time, noting that these new understandings enable teachers to reach all students, even those who learn differently. The troublesome trend he has witnessed is the steady decline of what he calls "good faith," the core belief that parents, teachers, and administrators are all working towards shared goals, with the best interest of children at heart.


The dictionary definition of good faith is, "an honesty or sincerity of intentions." In schools, I am not certain how to fully quantify good faith, but I think you know it when you see it. There was a time, argues the retired educator, when parents and teachers would come together and ask: "What are we going to do to fix this together?" Back then, the assumption was that all parties shared similar aspirations for students, and trusted each other in the work of guiding them towards desired outcomes. To be sure, if that covenant is on the decline, it would be important to prioritize its restoration.


At Marshall, our best articulation of our shared aspirations for students is our Mission Statement, and these Community Conversations are written to remind us that in our work together, we aspire to educate students to become curious and ethical citizens. Our Mission Statement is our community's covenant - one made in good faith and partnership. In the midst of challenges, it should serve as a beacon - guiding us back to our highest aspirations for our most important calling - our children.


Open and honest communication is the best evidence of a school's commitment to good faith, which is why we have added weekly newsletters in the Middle School and a series of lunches for the parents of 7th and 8th grade students. In December, 27 families joined us for our first Transitioning to Upper School luncheon. Our next is scheduled for this Friday, and our annual Town Hall meeting will be held shortly thereafter. All these opportunities for open communication are designed to take the mystery out of our methodologies and explain how exactly we are trying to achieve and live our Mission. We hope they also serve as forums for good faith partnership in that endeavor.


Some might argue our society's good faith problem extends far beyond schools, concluding that we are experiencing a proliferation of uninformed criticism and distrust. If that is true, part of our job as a school is to teach students how to form valid insights, construct balanced assessments, and exercise judgment on their own. If our students see parents and teachers as good faith partners in support of these new understandings, we win in two ways: We increase good faith here in our hallways, and we educate future leaders who, in turn, just might help our society restore good faith on a broader scale.

(c) 2018 Marshall School 

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