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 my students (I teach all the seniors) could critique my writing just as I critique theirs. I have now written over 150 of these monthly pieces, and, inevitably, some are better than others.

They are usually humorous and rarely very personal, although last month’s happened to be. They are rarely about educational issues, although the month before, July’s, was and is being published in “Education Update.” Some are just plain silly and, at times, seem to be the writings of a curmudgeon. However, you have entrusted your child to a school whose head writes every month, and so it might be interesting for you to see the workings of his mind.

A new school year is always exciting (my 49th), and this year I want to highlight a member of the faculty who is returning to us. Jackie Leber came to us as a 7th grader. Bright, lovely, and hard-working, she had dyslexia. Something she will always struggle with. Through sheer effort, she worked her way through every challenge, graduating well and going to Lehigh University for her undergraduate education. There she co-founded “Better Understanding of Individuals with Learning Disabilities” (BUILD), and was both on Dean’s List and received the “Contribution to Student Life” award.

After graduation, Jacqueline returned to York Prep in 2005, working as a Director of Admissions. In 2012, with all of our encouragement, she entered the Doctoral Program at Teacher’s College, Columbia, where she was a “Baldwin Scholar” and an adjunct. She was awarded her M.A, from Teacher’s College, and, last June, her Doctorate. She has both published and presented papers at numerous conferences, as well as written curriculums for college courses.

Most people who know me, know how much I love doing what I do. They may not know the enormous satisfaction you feel to see your students succeed. We have very bright students with no learning issues, but we also have some very bright students who have challenges to overcome.  As Dr. Leber returns to us in our Jump Start program, the Yiddish word “kvell” comes to mind. It is pride usually felt for one’s own child.  I think Dr. Leber’s success entitles me to “kvell” a little.

Once again, I warmly welcome you all to the 2017-18 year at York Prep. This is a great place to learn and I wish your child every success.

Ronald Stewart
York Prep School

P.S. After I wrote this essay, I asked Dr. Leber for her permission to print it as my September “Headmaster’s Thoughts.”  She showed me the dedication to her doctoral thesis; “ I thank Ronnie for his mentorship and guidance. For encouraging me to push on when things became difficult and for giving me the tools to navigate through the barriers that got in the way. Without you, this work would not have been possible.”

Forgive me, but I have this strange lump in my throat.