First Day Reflections – Head of School Matt Glendinning

Yesterday was the first day of school, the first day back after a most unusual school year — the first time in 479 days that our entire community was assembled.

As I was greeting students during morning drop-off, I saw real joy on many faces. Uncertainty, too, of course — we are still in the midst of this pandemic, and no one knows precisely what the next few months will bring. But mainly what I sensed among students was anticipation and a feeling of renewal now that we’re back together. I couldn’t agree more. As I said in my remarks during a rainy but jubilant Convocation, “It’s the people that are the essential ingredient of Moses Brown, the people that make everything else possible.”

The protocols we put in place last year to keep our community safe fundamentally changed how we operated. The most obvious example was the move to hybrid and remote learning. But we also had to curtail some of the project-based and experiential parts of our program. Those return this year, and I am thrilled because these hands-on opportunities are a core part of a Moses Brown education. Like the 7th grade interdisciplinary project in which students learned and taught about the Flint water crisis. Or how the 3rd grade used their deep study of National Parks — researching in the library, painting animals, writing postcards from the past — to gain new insight about treatment of indigenous peoples.

It goes without saying that these experiences are only possible with phenomenal teachers. But I’ll say it anyway: Moses Brown teachers are the best I have known in my career. They love children, they are experts in their fields, and they have a knack for creative pedagogy that emerges from a mindset of change and growth.

MB teachers make a professional habit of constantly assessing their own work, rethinking units and courses based on the needs of our students and the needs of a changing world. This summer, for example, one of our courses was rebuilt to incorporate models of mindfulness; other teachers refocused part of their math class to incorporate more programming and logic.

We’ll be telling more of these stories throughout the year, but as we start the 238th year since the founding of Moses Brown, I hope we can all model this same mindset – one of openness, of creative solutions, of listening to the needs of those around us and then rising to meet those needs. What’s something new you’re excited to try? How can you show flexibility in the classroom or on the playground? How can you prioritize growing over knowing? What are you worried about, and how can your family and school support you? 

We have great work ahead of us this year, everything from the rekindling of hands-on learning to our Lower School renovation project and our new DEI strategic plan. As we begin, I expect we’re all feeling a bit like those students I saw yesterday: joyful, eager, perhaps a bit anxious, but certain that a year of opportunity lies ahead.

In friendship,

Matt Glendinning
Head of School