The following is an excerpt of a speech delivered by Head of School Adam Rohdie at the Opening Meeting for faculty and staff members, August 30, 2021.
In a matter of days, 1,380 young children will come through our front doors, sit down in our rooms and look up at us and, I promise you, this will be the most important moment of their lives. They will expect nothing less than everything we have. So what will it be that ensures we hit a homerun this year? What do we focus on to ensure success?
Amazing, thoughtful lesson plans? Beautiful new buildings and facilities? Our academic schedule?
While important, actually, our most important feature is the culture of our school. Culture is the blanket that we wrap around all we do. You are going to hear a lot about culture this year. We are doubling down, tripling down—because at the end of the day culture eats strategy for lunch.
So, this morning, I want to share a couple of thoughts about how we continue to build the culture of our school and ultimately what we believe about teaching and learning. What is our culture and how do we grow it?
In any great organization, the culture of that organization has to be visible and understandable to everyone. It has to be so well worn that we can talk about it like we speak about our own childhood. Moreover, it has to be something outsiders come to associate with our school.
Thankfully, we have already gone a long way to establish that culture.
Ask any of the Distinguished Faculty or Staff and they will tell you our school is about community; it is about family; it is about deep and joyful learning and being a destination school for teachers to work because they love their colleagues and love coming to work. It is about being a place where every child is known and loved.
So, from that starting place, how do we deepen and secure that culture, especially with the many new folks and the fact that we continue to battle our culture-killing enemy, COVID-19? The answer to that question is found squarely in all of you. Our people. We hired so many of you new folks because it was our belief that you would fit into our culture, and you would help build it and expand it.
We are counting on you and, of course, we are counting on the folks who have been here for 30 years to help guide the way—to take up the mantle of leadership. You all are the answer and I have great faith that any success we have rests solely on the job you do on any given day.
This is why every year I return to the theme of celebrating what we all do every day as the most important job on earth. I cannot think of any more demanding job than what you do every day. Learning to fly a 747 is easier than running a first-grade classroom for a day. Trading stocks and bonds takes far less mental acuity than it does to get a tenth grader to understand the subtleties of Shakespeare. Even professional athletes do not have the endurance necessary to continue to be enthusiastic in front of a fifth-grade class in the month of December. Yet despite how demanding this job can be, how you do it means everything. Your work in the classrooms, in the hallways, on the fields, on the stage. That is who we are; that is our culture.
So here we go. We know how special our GCDS culture is; we know that you all sitting here today will live in this culture and help create it and expand it. And, ultimately, we know we will create an experience for our 1,380 students unlike anything they could have ever hoped for.