A Sense Of Community (From the Head of Upper School)

I spent much of Friday, November 11th out on the Friends Hall deck greeting many parents as you came to campus for advisor conferences. It was wonderful to have the chance to say hello, help you find your way to conferences, and tour some of you around the building. Never has Friends Hall felt so loved and admired! A day in community and the opportunity to connect with colleagues and families on the sunny deck left me energized — I am grateful for all the connections and conversations from that day.

As I’ve visited advisories this fall, I’ve felt this same sense of community in various forms, and I’ve enjoyed seeing the different personalities that each group takes. In one group, I got to pull the daily tarot card for a group reading. In another, I encountered a muffin contest. In still another, I was asked to draw a bike from memory (there were several attempts already on the board). In many others, I observed casual camaraderie and banter, group jokes (bones or no bones!), care for peers, and spaces in which students could unwind and breathe for a bit before going back into the broader community.

In Monday’s faculty meeting we talked about students who were struggling academically. What was abundantly clear was how well advisors knew students — and for students that are harder to get to know, how hard advisors were working to get to know them. The care and commitment that came from both teachers and advisors was unsurprising, but also inspiring.

The community we enjoy at Moses Brown is not inherent but built. I hope you all had a chance through advisor conferences to get a taste of the community that I have been so lucky to see in action every day, and that your children are pulled into through advisory and classes, teams, casts, and clubs.

As I’ve visited advisories, I’ve asked students to say their name, grade, and some kind of icebreaker whose function is partially to learn something about each student and partially to slow down the names enough for me to learn them. Sometimes groups identify their own icebreaker-of-choice, and it reflects something about the group’s collective character: astrological sign, favorite dessert, birth order. Other times, I have offered an icebreaker. Here’s the question that has yielded the most interesting results: If you knew you could not fail, what would you attempt? I highly recommend asking that question at the dinner table.

In gratitude,
Laura Twichell
Head of Upper School