By Jason Yaffe, Director of Academics.
I recently had an opportunity to host close to twenty beginning teachers from schools in our regional association, I.S.A.S. (Independent School Association of the Southwest), for half a day on the Hill. After a campus tour and classroom observations in the Upper School, the teachers gathered to share overall impressions with myself and Laura Ross, Head of Greenhill’s Upper School. The first participant to speak up commented how, “students at Greenhill truly care about each other.” It was a profound statement to make after merely three hours on campus and one that has stuck with me for the past week. Yet despite the richness of that observation, it did not come as a surprise to me. Beyond the academic engagement and personal growth students experience on an everyday basis, having a community of care is at the core of who we are as a school. In a competitive and often divisive world, the Greenhill community is tied together through genuine interest in connections and a desire to grow from the wisdom of others.
I am not sure what classes the particular beginning teacher observed, but clearly that visitor saw something impressionable. I, too, see the care for others during my own drop-in visits to Greenhill PreK-12 classrooms. It surfaces in different forms and here is a just a sampling:
- A Preschool student who stops to help a frustrated classmate during morning play (between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m.) and reminds her how to “settle her glitter” and practice deep breathing to change her state of mind.
- Lower School lunch table discussions where students express concern about whether a classmate is eating enough of the “good stuff.”
- Middle School recess when a student standing on the sidelines is welcomed by another to join a group activity.
- Upper School freshmen who don’t bat and eye in celebrating Homecoming by eating together at the ninth grade dinner before the dance instead of going their separate ways.
- Collective problem solving in an Upper School math club competition where more experienced juniors and seniors are intentionally teamed up with freshmen and sophomores to tackle challenging questions.
A direct result of our entrenched core values of honor, respect, and compassion, caring for each other runs deep on the Hill. It happens when collaboration is valued over individual success, when students and adults create and act upon opportunities to build rapport.