I’m not quite sure how it’s February 21st. This school year has been a whirlwind so far. The flood that devastated the Baton Rouge area still has us reeling a bit, but we are definitely on the road to recovery. On top of that, I moved to a new school this year — from a public middle school where I served 1000+ students in the library on my own to an independent school where I serve about 650 students in grades 6-12 with a fabulous assistant. The move has been incredibly rewarding and continues to push me to better myself as an educator and librarian.
Back in September, I wrote a post for the school blog reflecting on my experiences at the school so far. Looking back and seeing that what I wrote several months ago feels even more true and validated, I want to share it here:
Community + Opportunity = Success
As a newcomer to Episcopal School of Baton Rouge, there are two things that set this school apart from others: community and opportunity. That is not to say that other schools are devoid of these things, but that Episcopal embodies them at a level that is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
Episcopal is thoughtful and intentional in building and deepening a sense of community. From students of all ages, faculty and staff, parents and alumni, it is apparent that the bonds of the Episcopal community run deep. This type of community is not something that happens by accident; it is developed purposefully through shared experiences in teams, clubs, chapel, advisory groups, and other regularly occurring group meetings and events. Having time to come together with a shared focus and purpose built into the schedule each week may be taken for granted when it has been the norm for many years.
I have heard so many people comment on how impressed they have been while witnessing the ways that the Episcopal community, especially the students, came together during and after the flood to help and support each other. I have had a unique perspective in these events as I observed the post-flood volunteerism and generosity first, then came to see the school community in action after the school year officially began. Upon seeing these regularly scheduled community events taking place and becoming part of them myself, I was then able to understand how this community bond is formed and maintained. As a new member of the Episcopal community, I am amazed at the impact these common gatherings and events have on strengthening relationships across campus and beyond.
The concept of opportunity ties in very closely with community at Episcopal. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines opportunity as “a favorable juncture of circumstances.” This is exactly what I see when I look around at Episcopal. In striving towards the mission to nurture and develop the whole child, students are afforded a variety of opportunities to grow spiritually, intellectually, morally, physically and artistically.
Through service learning opportunities, students are developing character and an understanding of civic responsibility. The robust curriculum and course offerings provide students with opportunities to work closely with faculty members who are well respected and passionate about their fields of study. A variety of athletic opportunities push students to develop physical and mental strength while understanding the value of being part of a team. Opportunities for students to express themselves creatively are abundant through the visual and performing arts programs.
To be in a place where there is excellence in every facet of the school is invigorating for me as an educator. Seeing students embrace opportunities to learn and grow while being an essential part of such a vibrant community is powerful. This is what makes Episcopal School of Baton Rouge uniquely different.