Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Societal Values Via the News

This morning, as I slogged through my predawn ritual on the treadmill, I looked up at the huge wall of televisions at the gym and was struck by the glimpse into what represents our societal values as evidenced by the top stories of the day.

Screen One – Jon Lester has signed a 155 million dollar contract to pitch for the Chicago Cubs.  Obviously, this is paltry compared to Giancarlo Stanton’s recent signing for 325 million with the Marlins, but it still seems like a lot of money.  It’s about 1/19th of the school’s entire yearly operating budget and about thirty-nine times our endowment - to throw a baseball past another guy every five days.  Jon reports that he is, ‘excited to be in Chicago’.  Can’t say I blame him, I would be excited to be anywhere for that kind of compensation.

Screen Two – Kobe Bryant wore a black t-shirt that says, ‘I Can’t Breathe’ during warm ups in reference to the recent police-involved deaths.  Unlike Charles Barkley, I do believe that athletes have a responsibility to use their platform for the sake of championing important causes.  I also think that wearing a black t-shirt is akin to the folks who buy a $2 pink bracelet and are pretty sure they have cured breast cancer.  The announcers thought this was pretty bold and courageous.  After the game he had no comment, and so in the end he said nothing, and did nothing, but he wore a really supportive t-shirt.  I hope I’m wrong and this leads to a sweeping and positive review of police procedures, but I’m not confident.

Screen Three – The Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge are wrapping up their visit to New York City.  Of their visit one woman exclaimed, ‘I got to see the top of his head!’, which was undoubtedly exhilarating.  I am always confused by the attention they receive in their own country and around the world.  One’s most significant accomplishment was being born into the most significant family in his country and the other was fortunate enough to be asked to marry him.  I feel a certain kinship as I, too, was born to really great people, but I do not desire to see the top of his head.

Screen Four – Taylor Swift is on the short list for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.  She is awfully pretty and a really good singer, but I know five people personally who would be more deserving.  The offices on either side of mine contain better candidates.  Perhaps it is just sour grapes that the prerequisite for consideration is being a good singer and being really attractive, and therefore another award I will not win.  This, after being snubbed by Nashville Lifestyles’ 25 Most Beautiful People (again).

Being reassured that our values are intact, and all is right with the world in terms of modeling for our young people, I hit the showers, feeling incredibly grateful for the community in which I get to work every day.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Importance of Lunch

At school yesterday at lunch as I was enjoying my quinoa salad, sun dried tomato hummus and seafood bisque (true story) I began to reflect a bit on school lunch, and just how far we have come with regard to healthy choices and nutrition.  Lunch is an important time for children and faculty alike – it’s a good time to take a breath in the middle of the day, talk to friends and socialize.

Several years ago we made the decision to explore some different food service options and decided to go with a new provider.  Throughout the process, one thing became clear - as is the case in all areas of school life – it’s about the people more than anything else.  So, while we went with a really good company, the manager has made all of the difference.  Conversely, I believe if we had gone with a superstar company with a mediocre chef-manager the change would not nearly be as positive.

When you stop to think about it, being the chef in an independent school is no easy task.  It’s a challenging job to feed 500 people daily, while managing the palates of five-year olds through adults, and young people with a number of different things to be mindful of, from celiac disease to food allergies or diets that are informed by their religion.  Nevertheless, our chef, and the talented staff that he assembled, handles it all with aplomb.

Our staff have a personal connection with the kids, and seem to have gotten to know them all by name in a very short while.  They implore our students to ‘put something green on their plate’, to ‘try the whipped cauliflower (tastes just like mashed potatoes)’ and they listen to their feedback and suggestions.

Well, off to lunch - fajitas, cilantro lime rice and tortilla soup awaits!