Head of School Kathy Giles addressed parents and students at dinner on Friday night, October 17. Read excerpts from her speech below.
Over the past few weeks here at school, we have discussed the story of Malala Yousahfzai, now recognized as the co-winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for what she has been willing to give up and become to champion the value of education for children everywhere. We have thought about and talked about the value of a Middlesex education, and among other ideas, the belief that what Malala and her peers sought, and still seek, is the opportunity that our students can seize every day – the opportunity to ask any question they can think of, to seek out answers anywhere and everywhere, with support and encouragement and without religious or governmental authority that threatens to oppress, to try out all parts of themselves until something clicks – some idea, some motion, some tune, some equation, some rhyme – and they are off, interested, engaged, throwing their energy into it and finding that energy returned many times over in what we sometimes refer to as passion, surging forward with more energy and excitement about the possibilities that lie ahead. The fact that we do this work at Middlesex School is another iteration of that very powerful line from “Rank by Rank” (our school hymn) “what they dream be ours to do,” “they” in this case being parents and children and teachers everywhere who see what we do as affirmation that their hopes and dreams can be true and can be realized. We stand as proof positive that when a community believes in its youth as people of promise, when it invests in them, when it seeks to touch their souls and nurture their spirits and ask them to take responsibility for themselves and for the people around them in an ethical community, that anything is indeed possible, and promise becomes passion becomes purpose in the lives of young people who will grow into the leadership of our world.
I think we agree that it’s the finding in finding the promise that creates value, and finding takes energy and focus and the willingness to figure out what you want to get done and how you are going to do it and the encouragement and support and motivation of people around you who are equally as engaged, equally as curious, equally determined to build value in their lives and experiences. It takes patience – patience with slow progress and setbacks, patience with mistakes small and large, patience with the impediments we can’t control and the detours from carefully-crafted plans and the surprises that come up in the process of growth and self-discovery that does not end when one is handed the next diploma.
This work we do, finding our promise, creating value in an education that turns mirrors into windows -- it is the good work of a worthy life, and everyone in this room is at one or another phase of it. No one can do it for us, and we can’t take for granted or just assume it will happen. And no matter whether one is 15 or 55, there is nothing more exciting and exhilarating than when we start to see it come together. A lot of that happens with our students while we are here together – the breakthrough “aha,” the stellar solo, the critical goal, the great paper, the fantastic performance – but we all hope that those moments continue over the course of our lives, that we are open to them, and that learning to engage sets us up to understand that everyone in any room has something to teach us. I hope that over the course of the next couple of days, whether you are a student or a parent, you will take a quiet moment and think about the value of an education, the value of your education – taking heart that it is on-going and renewable and subject to whatever change is good or necessary and, in fact, dependent entirely on your willingness to engage and continue to seek and believe that finding the promise is indeed the worthy work of our lives.