Now What?

By Susan Palmer, Head of Middle School

The school year is nearing a close, and I have been looking at all of my end-of-year remarks that accompany a variety of final assemblies. Looking back, looking forward, celebrating success and effort, readying for the next step … all of these are standard end-of-school fare and are certainly present in my comments. For the Middle School student – whether headed off to high school or entering from Lower School – perhaps these comments need to have a slightly different look, though.

Perhaps for departing eighth graders, I should challenge them to “think of a time when you were kind to a classmate.” Or “recall a time when you were disappointed and you demonstrated resilience.” Or even, “remember when you were extremely curious about something in one of your classes and used that curiosity to spur your learning.”

Our philosophy is to work with the Whole Child at Greenhill, and that should mean attention to non-cognitive skills as well as content learning and academic processes. We are lucky that our mission directs us to foster the growth of these qualities, qualities that bolster meaningful lives and relationships, long after school has ended for our students.

It is certainly appropriate to celebrate academic excellence, artistic accomplishment, and athletic prowess, and we will do all of that and more in the next few days. In all of the excitement, though, we should find moments to see what kind of people we are handing off to the next stage in their schooling. If we as adults have nurtured the development of kindness, teamwork, resilience, curiosity, and other such qualities, we will have set a foundation for life satisfaction that is firmly set in daily school life. We wish all of our students success in all kinds of arenas, and we also wish them to become young people of deep and constant character. It will serve them well.

Susan Palmer
Head of Middle School