Headmaster’s Thoughts – November 2017

Watching the opening month of school is noticing the pairing of students into friendships.  You do not need many friends in your adolescence but it certainly makes life easier if one has a “best friend.”  The person who you can …

November 1, 2017

Headmaster’s Thoughts – October 2017

I limped into the doctor’s office eight weeks to the day after my surgery. I had torn my Achilles’ tendon in June, and was anxious to know how much longer I would be stiff and sore. “How am I doing?” …

October 1, 2017

Headmaster’s Thoughts – September 2017

Welcome to the new school year at York Prep. A particular welcome to new families who may be wondering what an essay entitled “headmaster’s thoughts” means. I started writing an essay each month with this title in 2004, so that …

September 1, 2017

Headmaster’s Thoughts – August 2017

Since few people read my August thoughts, I will take this opportunity to tell anyone actually reading this, about my injury. On June 16th I completely ruptured my Achilles’ tendon in my right ankle, and I was operated on to …

August 1, 2017

Headmaster’s Thoughts – July 2017

This month’s version of “Headmaster’s Thoughts” was inspired by a meeting with Dr. Charles Liu, Director of Macaulay Honors College and Professor of Astrophysics at the College of Staten Island.  Many of these ideas come from a short discussion we …

July 1, 2017

Headmaster’s Thoughts – June 2017: Graduation Speech!

Congratulations to all of you. An engaging class! Never, ever boring! You were always lively and entertaining! From the survivors, those 11 young 6th graders back in 2010; Spencer, Isabella, Aidan, Louis, Lucas, Jade, James, Eloise, Emily, Ian and Hayden, …

June 1, 2017

Headmaster’s Thoughts – May 2017

I was sitting in my bath (yes, I am English, I much prefer baths to showers, and the “a” in “bath” is pronounced like the “ar” in “larking”) when I suddenly remembered a quote from maybe 50 years ago. It …

May 1, 2017

Headmaster’s Thoughts – April 2017

We just had the spring parent-teacher conferences today (March 4th), and a really nice parent who has lots of contact with other parents told me one of the prime school-related questions the parents asked each other was what will happen …

April 1, 2017

Headmaster’s Thoughts – March 2017

These “Thoughts”, now in their 12th year, began when my children became curious about my family’s history. The pieces I wrote for them stressed the random nature of luck in my life. How I grew up, how I met their …

March 1, 2017

Headmaster’s Thoughts – February 2017

Sitting is the new tobacco. I thought it was sugar, but that was last month, and it is now definitely sitting. You cannot sit for more than 20 minutes at a time, or it is curtains for you. That is …

February 1, 2017

Headmaster’s Thoughts – January 2017

The first joke that I remember was told to me in kindergarten: “What does a caterpillar do on New Year’s Day? He turns over a new leaf!” Pathetic (although I remember that I thought it was funny as a five-year-old). …

January 1, 2017

Headmaster’s Thoughts – December 2016

‘Tis the season to be stressed out, Fa la la la la, la la la.   Who should we give presents to?  Have we given enough?  Will the newspaper ever be delivered again if we give too little?  Will our car …

December 1, 2016

Headmaster’s Thoughts – November 2016

I hope, by the time this piece is printed (I always think the word “essay” is too fancy for these works.) that the election will be OVER!  Heavens, make it end!  You can have my private collection of pre-war toothbrushes …

November 1, 2016

Headmaster’s Thoughts – October 2016

It is an interesting fact that I never feel as good on a Saturday morning as I do on a weekday morning.  I get up at my usual time in order to walk the dog in the park, but then, …

October 1, 2016

Headmaster’s Thoughts – September 2016

Welcome to the new school year at York Prep!  With these September Thoughts, I want to particularly welcome our new families. I started writing these essays in 2004 so that my students (I teach all of the seniors) could critique …

September 1, 2016

Headmaster’s Thoughts – August 2016

Do you ever get carried away in the spirit of the moment?  Have you ever made a decision that you wanted to change the next day?  No, I am not talking about the British public and Brexit, although I easily …

August 1, 2016

Headmaster’s Thoughts — July 2016

Unfortunately, one of the clear characteristics of the current presidential race is that neither candidate is able to stir us with grand oratory. Worse, there seems an absence of real humor in their public presentations. Jokes, if they exist at …

July 1, 2016

Headmaster’s Thoughts — June 2016

2016 Graduation Speech This afternoon is one of celebration.  We celebrate the class of 2016 whom I, and many of the teachers here, have had the privilege of teaching.  This is a thoughtful class whom I have enjoyed leading in …

June 1, 2016

Headmaster’s Thoughts – May 2016

I like lists, so I hope you will bear with me as I list the jobs that I did before I was 19. I started off as a milkman’s “boy” at the age of nine. I doubt there were many …

May 1, 2016

Headmaster’s Thoughts — April 2016

One of my favorite times of the school week is when I teach our seniors. There are a variety of reasons for this, not the least of which is the freedom I have to teach almost anything. The seniors often …

April 1, 2016

Headmaster’s Thoughts — March 2016

I have written before in these “Thoughts” that I do not like to classify students in any statistical reports. I believe that we are one race – humans, and any attempt to put us all into different boxes undermines, for …

March 1, 2016

Headmaster’s Thoughts — February 2016

Occasionally, one will read an article by an educator who believes that we give out too many awards in schools today. Their objection is that if every child competing in an academic or athletic event gets a medal, then the …

February 1, 2016

Headmaster’s Thoughts — January 2016

Happy New Year! No, really, I mean it. I wish you a happy New Year. I can understand why you might not take this sentiment seriously since, by now, countless people have offered you the same sentiment. I have received …

January 1, 2016

Headmaster’s Thoughts — December 2015

Welcome to December . . . the month where you pay the most for any product that could possibly considered a present for someone . . . the month that is followed by January, when you pay less than half …

December 1, 2015

Headmaster’s Thoughts — November 2015

(Look earnestly into camera.) My fellow Americans, I have decided to run for President of these United States of America. (Cue the applause.)   I pledge to bring back to our great country its past glory and power. I will see …

November 1, 2015

Headmaster’s Thoughts — October 2015

There comes a time in the beginning of the career of a young barrister in England when he (or she) becomes a pupil to a senior barrister. For the first six months of that period (a carry-over from the era …

October 1, 2015

Headmaster’s Thoughts — September 2015

This is my 11th year of writing these monthly “Headmaster’s Thoughts,” and I still am not very good at explaining why I do this. It started when one of my students (I teach 12th grade Ethics to all seniors.) commented …

September 1, 2015

Headmaster’s Thoughts — August 2015

Since a presidential election is only just over a year away, we are entering into the silly season for phone surveys. They always seem to happen at dinner time. Just when you are about to eat, the phone rings and …

August 1, 2015

Headmaster’s Thoughts — July 2015

Dust is truly ubiquitous on our planet. In oceans and on land, in cities and in the wildest of terrains, in palaces and hovels, it is a constant. We accept it in our daily lives as an inevitable nuisance that …

July 1, 2015

Headmaster’s Thoughts — June 2015

In the eleven years of writing these “Headmaster’s Thoughts,” I have always used my speech at graduation for my June “Thoughts.” This year we had a beautiful ceremony, highlighted by a fine speech by our keynote speaker, the great American …

June 1, 2015

Headmaster’s Thoughts — May 2015

My signature is truly appalling. It looks like a truncated part of an ECG from a person with an irregular heartbeat. When I write using a stylus on one of those plastic windows in tablets, as some retail establishments ask …

May 1, 2015

Headmaster’s Thoughts — April 2015

The thing about hula hooping is that there is something absurd about it. You gyrate with arms flailing because a person’s arms have nothing to do with keeping the hula hoop going, apart from keeping them out of the way. …

April 1, 2015

Headmaster’s Thoughts — March 2015

I want to say at the outset that I am sure all the current “Royals” in Britain are very nice people. I have not met them, and almost certainly never will, but I have absolutely no reason to think that …

March 1, 2015

Headmaster’s Thoughts — February 2015

This may not be an interesting month’s piece for you since I am going to talk about my back surgery and listening to other people talking about their surgeries is something I have always found uninteresting. My surgery came after …

February 1, 2015

Headmaster’s Thoughts — January 2015

You might have anticipated that my first published “Thoughts” of the New Year would be serious and educational. You would have been wrong. You probably know that I come from England, where we have a long history of having a …

January 1, 2015

Headmaster’s Thoughts — December 2014

There is a cup of hot chocolate on my desk as I sit down to write this month’s thoughts. This is the time of the year when we enjoy the holiday season and start thinking of the New Year.  It …

December 1, 2014

Headmaster’s Thoughts – November 2014

I do not carry a cell phone. Sometimes I think I am the only person in the School not to do so. What is it about those gadgets that are so critical?  We allow students to use them only in …

November 1, 2014

Headmaster’s Thoughts — October 2014

I cannot wait until the next “Reacher” thriller comes out.  It will top the New York Times bestseller list for sure.  I actually met Lee Childs, the author of the series, at a book signing at the sorely missed Barnes …

October 1, 2014

Headmaster’s Thoughts – September 2014

To any new readers of my monthly “Thoughts”, I want to wish you welcome. I started writing these pieces about ten years ago for the senior students who are all required to take my Ethics class. Since they are also …

September 1, 2014

Headmaster’s Thoughts – August 2014

Is it learned behavior to become more conscious of prioritizing as one gets older? Certainly, I have realized that saying yes to everyone only increases a responsibility to do things that you should not be doing, that you have no …

August 1, 2014

Headmaster’s Thoughts – July 2014

I have a confession to make: I am a FreeCell junkie. I am addicted to the solitaire game of FreeCell. It is the game that comes free with all Windows operating systems. It is on your computer. If you want …

July 1, 2014

Headmaster’s Thoughts – June 2014

[Headmaster Ronald Stewart delivered the following graduation speech on May 22, 2013. The guest speaker at the Commencement Exercises was Timothy Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics.] Congratulations to the Class of 2014, to their parents, friends, and teachers. Education is …

June 1, 2014

Headmaster’s Thoughts – May 2014

I thought I would discuss truce terms of my youth. You might wonder why, and the answer is that truce terms have disappeared for the very happy reason that this generation of boy students at good schools do not physically …

May 1, 2014

Headmaster’s Thoughts – April 2014

I want to begin by saying that I am not a masochist; neither, to my knowledge, is Jayme. And yet every week for many, many years we have allowed ourselves to be stuck all over our bodies by pins. And …

April 1, 2014

Headmaster’s Thoughts – February 2014

I suppose there are people who do not like lists, but I am not one of them. The internet is flooded with them nowadays, and I read them all. The ten best ways to cook a squirrel, the ten things …

February 1, 2014

Headmaster’s Thoughts – January 2014

I am writing these “Thoughts” on one of the coldest nights of the year in the middle of December. Returning from dinner at a local restaurant, Jayme and I passed by the Christian Science Church on the corner of West …

January 1, 2014

Headmaster’s Thoughts – December 2013

So here we are in our 45th year! That translates to more than 10,000 student “years” and well over 2000 graduates. We just finished our fifth successful Middle States accreditation visit (see “In the News” on our website), and we …

December 1, 2013

Headmaster’s Thoughts – November 2013

I was an evacuee. In June of 1944, three months after I was born, the Germans started to fire V-1 rockets at London, and they were followed by V-2s. The classic air raid, with warning sirens giving time for the …

November 1, 2013

Headmaster’s Thoughts – October 2013

I started writing these monthly “Thoughts” nearly nine years ago. The original purpose was to offer students (in this case, my senior Ethics class) some power and perspective: just as teachers generally require students to write essays that are corrected …

October 1, 2013

Headmaster’s Thoughts – September 2013

Since every month for over eight years I have written a short essay which I pass off as my “thoughts,” I sit at my computer at home determined to write something and open my desk drawer. I randomly pick up …

September 1, 2013

Headmaster’s Thoughts – August 2013

Since these are my “August Thoughts” and very few will read them, I thought that I would try to be serious for a change. I generally prefer to hide behind humor to avoid making pompous remarks about education and to …

August 1, 2013

Headmaster’s Thoughts – July 2013

I think I have Multiple Password Disorder. Every time I try to access a product or service or try to even get a price on an article, I have to log in, create a user name, and then—woe of woes—create …

July 1, 2013

Headmaster’s Thoughts – June 2013

[Headmaster Ronald Stewart delivered the following graduation speech on May 22, 2013. The guest speakers at the Commencement Exercises were Academy Award winners Mr. Joel Coen and Ms. Frances McDormand.] I, too, would like to congratulate the class of 2013. …

June 1, 2013

Headmaster’s Thoughts – May 2013

Recently, Jayme and I dined at a restaurant that presented, along with their wine list and their food options, a menu of water. They offered a variety of at least ten different bottled waters—all of which were, well, water. With …

May 1, 2013

Headmaster’s Thoughts – April 2013

“We strongly recommend that you arrive at the airport three hours before your international flight!” With this command, the airlines have created a new center of commerce and salesmanship: the airport concourse of shops. Trapped in an abundance of fast-food …

April 1, 2013

Headmaster’s Thoughts – March 2013

This is the one-hundredth “Headmaster’s Thoughts” I have written. That means that every month since December 2004, I have written a multi-paragraph essay for publication on the York Prep website. I am surprised (and I admit, pleased) to have written …

March 1, 2013

Headmaster’s Thoughts – February 2013

So here I am, at the Park, attending my regular Saturday and Sunday meeting. As always, it is on the hill, the one with the tall flagpole next to the band shell. Murray is here, eager to chase, and Lola …

February 1, 2013

Headmaster’s Thoughts – January 2013

I don’t know why, but recently Jayme and I have encountered Dr. Ruth Westheimer socially on serveral occasions. Now, there is one extraordinary lady! This month’s thoughts express my admiration for her. If you meet Dr. Ruth, I am willing …

January 1, 2013

Headmaster’s Thoughts – December 2012

I recognize that it is possible that many of you may not have heard of it, but I believe that the “Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain” is one of the world’s great orchestras. They come to New York once every …

December 1, 2012

Headmaster’s Thoughts – November 2012

There are some things one can predict. I think one can safely predict that there will be articles in the mainstream media next year opposing the whole concept of the “Best Colleges” list by US News and World Report. They …

November 1, 2012

Headmaster’s Thoughts – October 2012

My, there are a lot of complaints about education. Scarcely a week goes by without a New York Times editorial bemoaning how poor our educational system is. We are fourteenth, eighteenth, twenty-first—some gloomy comparative statistic assessing us against other first-world …

October 1, 2012

Headmaster’s Thoughts – September 2012

Welcome to the new school year! As a note to new parents, I should explain what these “Headmaster’s Thoughts” are, and what they are not. They were begun in December 2004 as a monthly essay for my Senior Ethics class …

September 1, 2012

Headmaster’s Thoughts – August 2012

It is deep summer and time to attempt to relax. I am afraid I find that easier said than done. Let me extol the one place that always gives me a sense of leisure: the bath. I know, Americans like …

August 1, 2012

Headmaster’s Thoughts – July 2012

Let me begin by wishing all of our students, faculty, and parents a very enjoyable and healthy summer. I think most people know of published studies indicating that students from “culturally advantaged” homes move forward educationally in the long summer …

July 1, 2012

Headmaster’s Thoughts – June 2012

My “thoughts” for June are always my speech at Graduation. A written speech is never the same as the one that actually is spoken—at least, mine are not. Somehow, the “moment” changes the speech to make it more relevant to …

June 1, 2012

Headmaster’s Thoughts – May 2012

Where is the “paperless society” they told us was coming? Like the Y2K bug that would ruin our computers on the first day of the 21st century, it is a fraud perpetuated on those of us who really do not …

May 1, 2012

Headmaster’s Thoughts – April 2012

The old proverb goes: “If you want to make the gods laugh, tell them your plans.” I find this to be true of my Ethics class. I prepare subjects for presentation, write out nice notes, and finish up in a …

April 1, 2012

Headmaster’s Thoughts – March 2012

The only time I watch advertisements is during the Super Bowl, and even then, I give scant attention to them unless they really annoy me. I thought the Teleflora advert, in particular, was disgusting: a beautiful girl saying provocatively into …

March 1, 2012

Headmaster’s Thoughts – February 2012

Neal Neuhaus: In Memoriam [The following was a speech delivered on January 11, 2012, during York Prep’s memorial service for Math teacher Neal Neuhaus.] We are all here today to remember and celebrate the life of our friend and teacher …

February 1, 2012

Headmaster’s Thoughts – January 2012

Thumbing through drawers of old papers, Jayme recently found an invitation to a celebration dinner, held at the Hilton Hotel, honoring “Ronald and Jayme Stewart, Founders,” on the twentieth anniversary of York Prep School. It was held on April 29, …

January 1, 2012

Headmaster’s Thoughts – December 2011

I have the privilege of teaching a course called “Ethics” to our seniors. Most teachers think their class is the most important, and I am no exception. “Vanitas, Vanitas, omnia Vanitas!” What the class has become–and this is a work …

December 1, 2011

Headmaster’s Thoughts – November 2011

The expressions “lacking in further ambition,” “smug,” and “happy with what you do” range in the degree of negative emotions they connote. Yet they all describe a similar condition, and one in which I think I have found myself for …

November 1, 2011

Headmaster’s Thoughts – October 2011

At the beginning of the First World War, Walter A. Raleigh (I added his middle initial to emphasize that he was not the one who placed the cloak in the mud for the first Queen Elizabeth and who acquired tobacco …

October 1, 2011

Headmaster’s Thoughts – September 2011

Hooray! The students will soon be back, bringing their energy and joy into the building. I can’t wait! For the benefit of our new parents, let me explain that the posting of my monthly “thoughts” started in December 2004, when …

September 1, 2011

Headmaster’s Thoughts – August 2011

I felt rather proud to be a New Yorker when Governor Cuomo signed the Marriage Equality Act into state law. For me, it was—and is—a non-issue; I never understood the opposition. I defy anyone to be able to distinguish which …

August 1, 2011

Headmaster’s Thoughts – July 2011

To my new BFF: I found you on Fritter, and I wanted to let you know that I will add you to my You Cube very soon. In the meantime, could you send me a picture of someone else because …

July 1, 2011

Headmaster’s Thoughts – June 2011

Graduation Speech – May 25, 2011 This is a very special senior class for me, and along with everyone here, I want to offer them my sincere congratulations. Special, because in a difficult year personally, they gave me something to …

June 1, 2011

Headmaster’s Thoughts – May 2011

More notes to Diary: Make sure tuxedo is ready for the Prom. Make sure you take a hat to the invitational track meet in case it is sunny. Make sure you are at both performances of the school musical Grease. …

May 1, 2011

Headmaster’s Thoughts – April 2011

My monthly “Headmaster’s Thoughts” began as an answer to a senior in my Ethics class who complained that students never had the chance to see or grade their teachers’ work. It seemed an almost reasonable statement, although I am not …

April 1, 2011

Headmaster’s Thoughts – March 2011

Last term, we took the senior class to the Metropolitan Opera to watch a dress rehearsal of the first act of Così fan tutte by Mozart. Così fan tutte has an easy yet ludicrous story line and great music. The …

March 1, 2011

Headmaster’s Thoughts – February 2011

Socrates’ wife, Xantippe, was apparently such a nag that her name has become associated with that of a scolding wife. Shakespeare refers to her in this way in The Taming of the Shrew. The truth is that the reports of …

February 1, 2011

Headmaster’s Thoughts – January 2011

Happy New Year from your local friendly dinosaur.   Yes, I am a dinosaur. I was born during the Second World War and evacuated from London soon after birth because Hitler began dropping V2 rockets on my home city. I …

January 1, 2011

Headmaster’s Thoughts – December 2010

I have learned this about puppies: they are not as angelic as they look. When our puppy Timmy first came to live with us a few months ago, I thought we would not be allowed to keep him. A doggie …

December 1, 2010

Headmaster’s Thoughts – November 2010

When I was very young, we used to say when insulted, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” You don’t hear that so much anymore because we have learned how powerful words are and …

November 1, 2010

Headmaster’s Thoughts – October 2010

I have discovered that no matter what electronic reading device you buy, as soon as you mention which one you bought, someone will tell you why you purchased the wrong one. About two months ago I bought a Nook from …

October 1, 2010

Headmaster’s Thoughts – September 2010

(As a note to new parents, I should explain what these “Thoughts” are, and why I write them.  I teach an ethical philosophy class to the entire Senior class. These “Headmaster’s Thoughts” (this is number seventy) are written as my …

September 1, 2010

Headmaster’s Thoughts – August 2010

The very first “Headmaster’s Thoughts” blog I wrote for our website was in December 2004. It was a short piece on how much I enjoyed watching our students in their gym classes. Our school has these impressive large windows as …

August 1, 2010

Headmaster’s Thoughts – July 2010

June 12th was a very big day in the life of the Stewart family. We acquired a puppy.   Lest you think this really is no big deal, I should say that neither my wife nor I had been without …

July 1, 2010

Headmaster’s Thoughts – June 2010

It is now a five year tradition that, instead of my usual “Thoughts” for June, I write out my speech at graduation. This year’s graduation was truly a joyous affair, with brilliant speeches by both students and faculty members and …

June 1, 2010

Headmaster’s Thoughts – May 2010

I hear a lot of concerns from parents about computers and how their usage affects their children. They see their children retreat into an isolated world that allows them only to engage themselves and to shut off social interaction with …

May 1, 2010

Headmaster’s Thoughts – April 2010

A word about grandchildren; they start off very small. Difficult, I have noticed, to talk to. Our dogs and cats respond better to heated discussion.   I understand that with time, grandchildren grow bigger and eventually will change your diaper …

April 10, 2010

Headmaster’s Thoughts – March 2010

As we approach graduation and the end of the school year, I wonder again why some students become so much more academically successful than others. What is it that creates the successful student? I have been the headmaster here for …

March 1, 2010

Headmaster’s Thoughts – February 2010

One of the requirements of doing this job of heading a school is that you have to give talks to groups—usually parents but, obviously, also students.  Since before I started the school I was a barrister at the Old Bailey …

February 1, 2010

Headmaster’s Thoughts – January 2010

Happy New Year!   I thought of writing my usual silly stuff.  I was going to write about the song from the musical Cats called “Memory,” and then, after the first word I would write that I realized I had forgotten the …

January 1, 2010

Headmaster’s Thoughts – December 2009

As we come to the end of the year, I want to wish all my readers (all six of you apart from my wife, my mother, my daughters, and my senior ethics class who have to read and critique these …

December 1, 2009

Headmaster’s Thoughts – November 2009

Like many others, I like to read something when I eat alone.  Recently, I had a very early morning meeting and was having breakfast at home beforehand.  The newspapers had not yet arrived, and I was in the kitchen with …

November 1, 2009

Headmaster’s Thoughts – October 2009

–Introduction–   This being the introduction of our new website, I write to hope that you enjoy it and that you will feel free to e-mail me atrstewart@yorkprep.org with any suggestions or comments.  I have included two pieces as my “thoughts” …

October 1, 2009

Headmaster’s Thoughts – September 2009

For new parents, I should explain that every month I write something called “Headmaster’s Thoughts”. These are primarily for my Senior students to critique in our Ethics class, but, in actuality, they also have a small audience in the York …

September 1, 2009

Headmaster’s Thoughts – August 2009

Since this is August, and no one reads “August’s Thoughts” anyway, I can indulge in a confession.  I understand it is good for the soul.  My confession is that I do not seem to be as fond of food as …

August 1, 2009

Headmaster’s Thoughts – July 2009

After our commencement exercises, we had a party for the graduating class and their guests. Every parent I met at that party thanked me for York’s contribution to their child’s success.  Without exception, I was thanked for how far their …

July 1, 2009

Headmaster’s Thoughts – June 2009

Farewell speech to Seniors at Graduation 2009 Well, here we are… Almost time to give you your diplomas. Congratulations to all of you. I will try to be brief because I am looking forward to your graduation speaker, Wally Lamb, …

June 1, 2009

Headmaster’s Thoughts – May 2009

In my March “thoughts” I wrote that I had made a resolution: after reading books for my grandchildren like Goodnight Moon, I would read Tolstoy’s War and Peace all the way through. I do not now know what I meant by “all the way …

May 1, 2009

Headmaster’s Thoughts – April 2009

It is embarrassing to realize how often I do things because others do them. In fact, the older I get, the more I realize that we are really much more like the adolescents that we teach than we admit. I …

April 1, 2009

Headmaster’s Thoughts – March 2009

I have made a resolution that I am going to read War and Peace all the way through. I say this with no pride since I have not yet begun this task, and the last time I tried I got bogged down …

March 1, 2009

Headmaster’s Thoughts – February 2009

All of us learn from the guidance of a more experienced person. In young children it is, of course, their parents who support the learning of new skills. In older children, teachers become more influential. Jacqueline Leber, one of our …

February 1, 2009

Headmaster’s Thoughts – January 2009

Humpty Dumpty told Alice that he much preferred unbirthday presents to birthday presents, because they came more often. In fact, he made Alice do the mathematics, and was happy to point out to her that 364 unbirthday presents are far …

January 1, 2009

Headmaster’s Thoughts – December 2008

They say that everyone has different talents, which is just a nice way of saying that some of us are totally untalented in certain areas. I know about this because I was, and always will be, bad at art. There …

December 1, 2008

Headmaster’s Thoughts – November 2008

Good heavens. It’s November! What happened to September and October? For that matter, what happened to the summer? Is it just me, or are things flying by faster these days? Before you blink, it is Halloween, and then Thanksgiving, which …

November 1, 2008

Headmaster’s Thoughts – October 2008

I had already written my “thoughts” for this month when, on September 15, the New York Post ran a column by Andrea Peyser attacking Christina Schlesinger, a history teacher at York. So I have changed my piece to discuss this because, although …

October 1, 2008

Headmaster’s Thoughts – September 2008

Welcome to the new school year. I look forward to a wonderful 40th anniversary year at York; when you love what you do as much as I do, time passes very quickly.   These are my monthly “thoughts.” If you …

September 1, 2008

Headmaster’s Thoughts – August 2008

My wife tells me that very few people read my thoughts and even fewer read my summer comments. Jayme’s view is that most of our students and their parents are away in summer and, in any case, since Edline does …

August 1, 2008

Headmaster’s Thoughts – July 2008

Dear Head of Amazon Books: I am a great admirer of your company. Perhaps you can help our students. You see, they are at risk of developing back problems, and I think your organization can actively prevent this. This is …

July 1, 2008

Headmaster’s Thoughts – June 2008

Farewell speech to Seniors at Graduation. 2008     Let me add my congratulations to this wonderful class of 2008 and also add my thanks to the parents who entrusted their children to the school.   Graduation for my wife, …

June 1, 2008

Headmaster’s Thoughts – May 2008

If you are looking for deep thoughts, you may have to look quite hard this month, since this piece is about a minor disagreement between my wife and me which has been going on for a few years.   You …

May 1, 2008

Headmaster’s Thoughts – April 2008

At about this time of the year, parents of seniors begin to get concerned about “empty nest syndrome.” With that in mind, I want to give you some taste of the future. One day you probably will be grandparents and …

April 1, 2008

Headmaster’s Thoughts – March 2008

I teach for partly selfish reasons; I enjoy teaching and always have. Actually, I suspect that most people would like to teach intelligent and curious young people. There is something uniquely gratifying in the teacher-student relationship when it works well—and …

March 1, 2008

Headmaster’s Thoughts – February 2008

There are two things I should state at the outset of this piece. First, I am not good with forms, and secondly, I have nothing against the New York State Department of Education. Honestly! It is just that every year …

February 1, 2008

Headmaster’s Thoughts – January 2008

There are times at school when, for a variety of perfectly reasonable reasons, the teacher is a few minutes late to his or her class. While out and about in the school, so to speak, I sometimes am there at …

January 1, 2008

Headmaster’s Thoughts – December 2007

In the middle of the November parent-teacher conferences, my secretary informed me that a father wanted to see me. The day had been so positive – so many wonderful things had been said to me as to how great our …

December 1, 2007

Headmaster’s Thoughts – November 2007

A surprise happened this Field Day: for the first time in a long while, the students beat the faculty at softball. Now let me immediately make the excuse that the students were represented by the boys’ varsity team, and the …

November 1, 2007

Headmaster’s Thoughts – October 2007

A little history: At the end of my second year as an undergraduate studying law at Oxford, I came to America to be a sailing counselor at Tripp Lake Camp for Girls in Maine. Jayme was a swimming counselor. I …

October 1, 2007

Headmaster’s Thoughts – September 2007

By the fifteenth of the month, I begin to get nervous that I have not yet written next month’s “thoughts.” Somehow or other, for a number of years, I have always managed to get some thought out on paper. Whether …

September 1, 2007

Headmaster’s Thoughts – July 2007

“So,” said the parent, “what do I do?” The problem was not that unusual but it was the type of issue that parents agonize over solving, hesitant to make a decision for fear of offending their child. Most of us …

July 1, 2007

Headmaster’s Thoughts – June 2007

Graduation Speech, 2007 Congratulations to all of you. An interesting class… never boring. Never ever boring! And congratulations to your families. Thank you for entrusting your child’s school education to us. I am down on the program as “Headmaster’s Farewell.” …

June 1, 2007

Headmaster’s Thoughts – May 2007

One of the great rewards of teaching and running a school is the satisfaction of working with people rather than things. To visit with alumni one remembers with enormous fondness is, therefore, a real joy. This month, I managed to …

May 31, 2007

Headmaster’s Thoughts – April 2007

A brief tirade: Like all good schools, at York Prep we provide a great deal of scholarship aid. A committee of five spends a considerable amount of time going over scholarship applications, in the course of which many things are …

April 9, 2007

Headmaster’s Thoughts – March 2007

I seem to have gone from being the youngest headmaster in New York to being the longest serving headmaster. Where was the middle? One moment, youth, and the next, seniority! What happened? One moment I was eating things I liked, …

March 1, 2007

Headmaster’s Thoughts – February 2007

It is a simple proposition: Character trumps Algebra. By which I mean that it is far more important to be a young person with empathy and responsibility than to be gifted intellectually. Of course, as parents we want everything; we …

January 31, 2007

Headmaster’s Thoughts – January 2007

January! Sales! Anything else? The same shirts that sold in Brooks Brothers for forty-nine dollars in December sell in January for twenty-nine dollars. Same shirt, different time. Were we all paying too much before, or are they taking a financial …

January 1, 2007

Headmaster’s Thoughts – December 2006

There are two “thoughts” that I would like to express this month. The first is short but important, and that is to thank Ice T, his York Prep students, and the production staff for the series “Ice T’s School of …

December 1, 2006

Headmaster’s Thoughts – November 2006

I am thinking of putting on a bright red clown nose. November begins with my least favorite holiday and ends with my most. Who cannot like Thanksgiving? The premise may be totally mythical (see James Loewen’s rather angry book “Lies …

November 1, 2006

Headmaster’s Thoughts – October 2006

Children do not like change. Not a very deep thought, I will agree, but worth remembering at schools. It would seem there are a lot of changes at other schools nowadays. The average life of a headmaster is about six …

September 30, 2006

Headmaster’s Thoughts – September 2006

Some years ago, members of my Senior Ethics class asked me if they could see some examples of their teachers’ writings. I replied that teachers write all the time for students, particularly when they prepare homework assignments or when they …

September 7, 2006

Headmaster’s Thoughts – August 2006

August! A month of vacation, beach, and warm nights. I thought it appropriate to the month if I gave a recipe for a summer dessert instead of philosophy. It comes from the time when Jayme and I were co-directors of …

August 1, 2006

Headmaster’s Thoughts – July 2006

A sign of age is that you are reading a book and about a quarter way through, you suddenly realize that you have read it before. It’s embarrassing! It has happened to me a few times. But that is minor …

July 5, 2006

Headmaster’s Thoughts – June 2006

Headmaster’s Graduation Speech – May 24, 2006 Let me first also congratulate the class of 2006. A very bright and challenging class. They consume more chewing gum and have more opinions than any senior class I have taught. They are …

June 1, 2006

Headmaster’s Thoughts – May 2006

I am sure you get e-mails. We all do. Unfortunately, I usually get ones that I don’t want from perfect strangers. In the main, their “urgent” messages to me are either of an obscene nature, suggesting that they can cure …

May 1, 2006

Headmaster’s Thoughts – April 2006

If you call York Prep, you get a courteous response from one of our two delightful receptionists. A real person answers the phone. Lest you think this is usual, let me suggest you try other schools. Most likely you will …

April 1, 2006

Headmaster’s Thoughts – March 2006

Sometimes in these monthly pieces I try to be amusing, and sometimes not. This month, not. I have a disease. It sounds arrogant to say, but the disease is one of honesty. It gives me pain, as any disease does, …

March 1, 2006

Headmaster’s Thoughts – February 2006

I get very few comments on my “Headmaster’s Thoughts,” but the most e-mails I have had were reactions to the piece about the Sikh taxi driver. So I will begin these “thoughts” with a very brief comment about New York …

February 1, 2006

Headmaster’s Thoughts – January 2006

January’s thoughts are written in December (surprise!), and these are written on the last day of school in 2005, the day we have a skating party. It has been an interesting day. It started at 3:00 a.m. when I tried …

January 1, 2006

Headmaster’s Thoughts – December 2005

Since December is a month in which religion seems to dominate more than in most others, I write to describe a first for me that happened a few weeks ago. An alumna, who had been in my Ethics class when …

December 1, 2005

Headmaster’s Thoughts – November 2005

When I was young, my only definition of crazy behavior was that of people who walked down the street talking to themselves. If they did that, quite simply, I thought them crazy. Modern technology has turned this definition on its …

November 1, 2005

Headmaster’s Thoughts – October 2005

Hurricane Katrina has put in perspective the whole world of school fundraising. Most people would say that charitable contributions should help people, first and foremost. This seems self-evident, and yet, in the world of private schools, most charitable giving ends …

October 1, 2005

Headmaster’s Thoughts – September 2005

Welcome to a new school year. To those of you who are new to our community, I should explain that I try to write something in this “Headmaster’s Thoughts” section each month. These comments are usually personal observations and—I hope–are …

September 1, 2005

Headmaster’s Thoughts – August 2005

All educators should raise a cheer for J. K. Rowling. Thanks to her “Harry Potter” series, teaching is becoming sexy again. We’ve been the underdog profession for so many years that it certainly is nice to get some positive public …

August 1, 2005

Headmaster’s Thoughts – July 2005

The most difficult time of the year to write these “Headmaster’s Thoughts” is the summer because, quite simply, the students are not at school. Although most of us in the administration work to prepare for the coming year during June, …

July 3, 2005

Headmaster’s Thoughts – June 2005

Headmaster’s Graduation Speech – May 25, 2005 This point of the program is listed as the Headmaster’s farewell, and so let me also include with my goodbye, my congratulations to this great class of 2005 on completing high school and …

May 31, 2005

Headmaster’s Thoughts – May 2005

One’s memory is very selective about what it thinks was important in one’s childhood. I remember being very apprehensive about going to a new school when I was eleven. It was a State School, albeit a selective one, and there …

May 2, 2005

Headmaster’s Thoughts – April 2005

Teaching the Senior Ethics Class [This article first appeared in the 2005 issue of The Parents League Review. © 2005 Parents League of New York, (212) 737-7385, https://www.parentsleague.org.] Some time ago, a senior came to see me about a problem he …

April 4, 2005

Headmaster’s Thoughts – March 2005

I was planning to be a mathematician and had little interest in history until my fifth year of secondary school—which would be the equivalent of tenth grade—when I met Dr. Walter Isaacson. We were having a study hall, and he …

March 1, 2005

Headmaster’s Thoughts – February 2005

I was encouraged recently to “Google” myself. Go ahead, I was confidently told, you will be amazed by what the search engine tells about you. I was. It turned up nothing. Somewhat crestfallen by this experience, I wondered if I …

January 31, 2005

Headmaster’s Thoughts – January 2005

As the headmaster of a New York City school, albeit a private one, I get a good deal of mail on the issue of prayer in schools. Most of it comes from right wing Christian groups, who feel that we …

January 3, 2005

Headmaster’s Thoughts – December 2004

I spend a surprising amount of time at windows which overlook our school gymnasium, watching regular phys-ed classes. Parents, teachers, and students look at me as I watch, wondering what it is that the headmaster sees in the games the …

December 14, 2004