Headmaster’s Thoughts – August 2007

Our dog, J.T., a black and white Bearded Collie of respectable years, walks past the school in summer wondering if it’s worth going inside. He is fairly sure in his mind that he runs the place, that the students are there to pet him, that he stays in my wife’s office because the conversation is the most interesting there, and that a busy school is the best possible residence during the day for a dog with a sense of duty. Summer is baffling because the school seems a shell of itself, with little to attract his sense of play and companionship.

J.T. rarely goes into the school in the summer months. The smells of cleaning, and the paucity of the number of people in the building, worry him. If he ventures inside, he wanders from room to room looking for a friendly hand, hoping for a friendly pat.

In fact, there is activity going on during the summer at York, but it is serious stuff, not the type of things dogs are interested in. The schedules and the mailings, the cleaning, painting, and re-carpeting, the ordering of books and furniture, the replacement of computers–these quietly take place in a hushed building.

I doubt if J.T. realizes that the preparations being done are essential for him to have a good time when school starts. He wants a happy school with positive energy, but–and here I think he would be surprised–that doesn’t just happen. In fact, the critical time of any school year is the first few weeks. Students, teachers, and administrators are judged by those weeks for the rest of the year. The students need to have as smooth an entry as possible to realize their potential. A school cannot start in chaos. The new year has to seamlessly link to the one that ended in the previous June.

Meanwhile, J.T. waits for the merry-go-round to begin again. I find I share his anticipation.

Ronald P. Stewart, Headmaster
E-mail: rstewart@yorkprep.org

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