MS Head's Blog
In the Middle of It All
Middle School Musings by Trevor O’Driscoll, Bancroft's Head of Middle School
Most weeks, MS Head Trevor O’Driscoll writes a short note to parents and faculty about middle school, education, parenting, and other topics relevant to our community. We share these Middle School Musings here for the benefit and enjoyment of all who are interested. Read recent entries, browse the archives, and delight in Mr. O’Driscoll’s take on our Middle School and the amazing people who inhabit it.
Reaccreditation & Conferences
For much of last week I was in New Hampshire chairing the reaccreditation team that immersed itself in a gem of a school in Nashua that serves infants through eighth grade. Our team of seven volunteer educators, which had collectively racked up 20 New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC) visiting team appearances and 165 years of school experience, spent time digesting the school’s 200-page self-study report and hundreds of accompanying documents before our arrival. We then spent four days meeting with every employee and many students as we watched the place in action. Our own report that evaluates the school against NEASC’s 15 accreditation standards will soon be finalized, and it will serve to validate the school’s strengths and highlight its opportunities for growth and evolution. It was a fun, grueling, intense, and rewarding process that was enriching on many levels.
Here at Bancroft our faculty and staff have been deep in the reflective process (including on Friday when your children didn’t have school) that will result in our own self-study and visiting team arrival in October 2018. From my various experiences on both sides of this process, I can tell you it is incredibly valuable to every school that undertakes it, and most schools see benefits for their students and community long before the visiting team arrives.
Despite any visiting committee’s best efforts, what is hard to capture in these visits and reports is the spirit of a place. How does one measure faculty commitment to its students? How does one quantify student happiness, or those unseen moments when a student succeeds at something for the first time due to the behind-the-scenes help of a teacher? While the culture of a school may be hard to capture in a report, I do know it’s easy to identify when you see it.
With advisor/parent conferences coming up on Friday, what I see tells me so much about Bancroft’s Middle School and its faculty. Though the sheer amount of time our faculty is devoting to talking and sharing information about your children is impressive, it’s the quality and substance of these conversations that really strike me. These teachers know your children. Think about how special it is to be a young adolescent who is known so well by so many caring adults. Outside of closest family members and dearest friends, who, at this moment in time, knows your child better than his or her Bancroft teachers? Based on the conversations I have been part of and witnessed, I think you’d be hard pressed to find more people in one place who know your whole child better.
When you have your conference, we trust you will find your child’s advisor has a very good sense of how your son or daughter is doing across many facets of school life, and is able to talk about patterns, strengths, and areas ripe for growth. We look forward to continuing and strengthening our school/family partnerships.
In addition to the philosophical approach that drives our goals in these advisor/parent meetings, we’ve organized this conference day with these logistics in mind:
- Maximize the time you spend with your child’s advisor;
- Be mindful of the amount of time you need to be on campus while recognizing you lead busy lives; and
- Align the conference day across all divisions with awareness that child care arrangements can often be burdensome to arrange.
Of course, as is always the case, any and all of your child’s teachers are only an email or phone call away should you need to follow up with any of them.
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