The beginning of this school year marks a momentous and exciting change for BAA. Our Associate Head of School and founding Academic Dean, Anne Clark, has stepped into the role of Interim Headmaster for the coming school year. Anne leads with a brilliance that will usher BAA into its next era; already the rearrangement of space is giving the school a fresh new energy and life!
We continue to move BAA forward as I relocate across the hall to become Executive Director of the Center for Arts in Education at BAA, the professional development, dissemination, and advocacy arm of the school. The Center offers professional development institutes and workshops, provides consulting and coaching for schools interested in using the arts as a reform strategy, and runs a number of programs:
- National Artist Teacher Fellowship Program
- Summer Institute for Arts in Education
- School Visit Program
- Alumni Creative Corps
- Workshops, presentations, and keynotes at national and international conferences
- Consulting services
At the end of last school year, I gave my final celebratory speech as headmaster (excerpted below) to faculty and staff at our goodbye lunch, a tradition that has carried through our fourteen years. The enduring questions I raise here are ones that we asked after our first year in 1998 and continue to ask today. I believe these questions have universality for other educators, too:
- Would we be both a model of academic innovation and a model of arts education?
- Would we produce students academically and artistically prepared to enter our ProArts partner institutions or other colleges or careers of our students’ choosing?
- What would it mean to create an arts school that exemplified the best aspects of the Coalition of Essential Schools?
- Would we be able to emphasize depth over breadth, or would the frenzy of standardized testing knock out our best laid curriculum plans?
- How would we develop and communicate a shared understanding of our standards with students, parents, board members and others?
- What would developing and modeling democratic and equitable practices in the classroom, hallways and faculty room mean? (We did have a faculty room once upon a time!)
- As an inclusive school, how would we express our commitment to diverse learners and address ongoing shifts in demographics?
- Would we be able to create enough personalized learning situations for our students? Did we have enough different pathways to graduation for our kids?
- How could faculty meeting time be used to spend more time talking about our students with the teachers who actually taught them, and more deeply connected to our own needs as developing teachers?
- How would our Habits of the Graduate (RICO) live in our classrooms?
Even (and especially) after 14 years, we ask these questions so we can serve all our students well… We want to keep learning how to take professional risks together- artistically, academically and emotionally. We want to continue to push one another on issues of race, class, gender, sexual orientation and other societal realities… What I want to celebrate today are those values of getting better, of patience, of figuring it out, of saying NO! to the rest of the world when mandates make no sense. If I have a legacy, I want it to be that you all know how to talk to one another, to disagree respectfully, and to come together in complete solidarity- as the powerful group that you are- in order to do what is right for kids… BAA will continue to soar if you remember to build from love, respect and collaboration, and always with students at the center.
I am so proud of what BAA has and will continue to become, and am excited to bring more of that work outward in my new role. I am taking off for Oslo in a few weeks for the first annual Teaching Artist conference and will be sure to blog about it when I return! As always, please leave comments and questions and I am happy to respond!