Providing a Framework for Growth & Success

Judith Guild, Head of School
The following remarks were delivered to The Middle and Upper School Community during Opening Convocation:
 
The theme for this morning’s program and for the upcoming year is The New Three R’s: Reflection, Resilience, Reconnection. You may be wondering why we create themes. A theme is defined as, “a major and sometimes recurring idea, subject or topic. A dominant theme usually reveals what the work is really about and can be helpful in forming insights and analysis” (The Classroom.com). Your teachers will ask you frequently to write about a particular theme or create one of your own. A theme is a way for you to focus your thinking, and it is a way for the school to focus its thinking and activity.
 
I will begin by getting a small mystery out of the way. You may be asking yourselves, “What are the old “Three R’s” since our theme is the New Three R’s?”
  • For all of the conservationists out there, we know the 3R’s to be Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. ... it focuses on cutting back on the amount of trash we generate. 
  • For the educators, we know the 3Rs as Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic, which started as a multi- faceted national program decades ago that focused on improving the literacy and numeracy foundation of young students. 
  • For the followers of the Dalai Lama, it focuses them on Respect for Self, Respect for Others, Responsibility for All Your Actions.  
  • In the world of emotional literacy, experts established the three R's as: Regulation, Reconstruction, and Resilience. 
  • President Roosevelt focused on what historians refer to as the "3 R's" for the New Deal: Relief for the unemployed and poor, Recovery of the economy back to normal levels, and Reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression. 
  • In the education reform movement, the principles of Relationships, Relevance, and Rigor provided a focus for structuring conversations and initiatives in instructional practice (Wagner, 2002).
 
For Brimmer’s school year 2021-2022, the educators at Brimmer developed the theme of “The New Three R’s: Reflection, Resilience, Reconnection.” While each leader here today will speak about one of these three concepts, I will present a brief framework for you.
 
The first of the three R’s, reflection, is part of learning and thinking. As a mirror reflects light back to us, intellectual reflection brings lessons and thoughts back to us for more in-depth consideration and refinement. We reflect to understand thoroughly or to strengthen and deepen learning. Reflection often requires good questions. Say for example you reflect on the fires, storms, and floods we experienced throughout the summer around our nation and throughout the world. You may wonder if we are paying enough attention to the earth’s behavior. What if we asked this question: Is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration 's budget to drive advances in science, technology, aeronautics, and space exploration matching the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s budget to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts? We may decide it is worth looking into.
 
FACT: NASA’s budget in 2021 was $23.3 billion. NOAA’s budget was $5.4 billion. NOAA's mission is to: “understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.” NASA’s mission is to: “drive advances in science, technology, aeronautics, and space exploration to enhance knowledge, education, innovation, economic vitality, and stewardship of Earth.” As a reflective person, you may find yourself wondering about the impact of this budgeting difference and think maybe there is something to learn from this.
 
The second of the three R’s, resilience, is the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Being resilient does not mean that people don't experience stress, emotional upheaval, and suffering during fires, floods, and storms. Resilience is important because it gives people the strength needed to overcome hardship, learn from it, and move on to improving the situation. After experiencing fires and floods, then reflecting on NASA and NOAA’s budgets, resilient people would have the strength to process this information, see if there was a way to overcome future hardships, and try to prevent new stresses and upheaval. They might make a case for shifting some of the federal monies one way or another and vote for that change. This is one of the issues our government is reflecting on right now as they look at the $3.5 trillion dollar spending bill. 
 
Finally, our third R, reconnection, is a vital part of the education process. Reconnection is defined as “to join or be joined with something else again after becoming separated.” As students it is time to reconnect with each other, with your teachers, and with subjects you are learning, conversations that are important to you, and actions you may want to take to move ideas forward. When we were separated during the pandemic, we learned how important it was to join together as we think through some big challenges. We know that the ideas of many often produce stronger results than the ideas of few.
 
Our theme this year will help us develop analysis and form insights into many facts and ideas.
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As an inclusive private school community, Brimmer welcomes students who will increase the diversity of our school. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, gender, gender identity and expression, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, or any other characteristic protected from discrimination under state or federal law, in the administration of our educational policies, admissions practices, financial aid decisions, and athletic and other school-administered programs.