Monday, January 4, 2016

A Year In Review - 2015

As 2015 draws to a close we are eager to share some of the notable accomplishments from the first half of the school year:
The development of the iLab has led to increased opportunities around Design Thinking and creativity in general. Students are working with their hands as they explore different technological aspects of the curriculum.

      We have added opportunities for students to have greater engagement in many STEM initiatives, from middle school Robotics and Lego Mindstorms in lower school to various offerings in both our before and after school programs. Our involvement in The Hour of Code has increased greatly as well.

      The high school placement process, which started with the High School Fair featuring 40 high schools from around the country, is in full swing. Our students are visiting campuses all over Nashville and beyond as they navigate the decision process that will decide their placement for the next four years.

       In the arts, one highlight of the fall trimester was a wonderful fifth through eighth grade production of The Secret Garden with 63 students involved in the cast and crew. The addition of the middle school Glee Club has proven a success as students have already performed several times this year.  We had another amazing Grandparent Chocolate performance and the Holiday Concert was a terrific way to get into the spirit of the season.

In athletics we had a most successful fall:
Girls Varsity Cross-Country HVAC Division A Runners-Up Girls Varsity Soccer HVAC Division A Champions Girls Volleyball made the AA Tournament for the first time, taking third place Varsity Football ended the season with one loss Individually: We had the first place runner in HVAC Division A Boys Cross-Country We had the second, third and sixth place runners in HVAC Division A Girls Cross-Country We had the sixth place HVAC Girls Golf player In the HVAC Wrestling Tournament we had one champion and four runners-up

We continue to have a very strong Chess Team as well. Harding Students have competed in five scholastic tournaments for far. Our teams have earned 1st Place three times, 2nd Place once, and 3rd Place twice. Individual players have won 1st Place once, 2nd Place twice, and 3rd Place five times, with an additional five coming in between 4th and 10th. Amazingly, two Harding 3rd Graders qualified for the Nashville City Championship, taking two of only six available spots at the Championship!

We had forty-five of fifty-four seventh grade students qualify through the Duke Talented Identification Program to take the high school ACT. We will report on their success in the new year.

The PreK program and the additional section of fifth grade has proven to be a success as well as these students and families have already proven to be incredibly positive additions to the school community.

      We opened up the school year with our highest historical enrollment as we now enroll 497 students. We are in the midst of another very competitive admissions cycle and are looking forward to welcoming the newest crop of Generals in February!  

      We are looking forward to an equally exciting second half of the year!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fierce Conversations, by Susan Scott - A Review

For most of us, the majority of relationships, both personal and professional, are informed, created and managed through conversation.  It’s an incredibly important relational aspect of our lives, and in no profession is it more important than in education.  While technology has helped facilitate communication - particularly over long distances, and in a more timely fashion - it has also made face-to-face conversations less prevalent.

Susan Scott’s, Fierce Conversations - Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time, is dedicated to the importance of having thoughtful, candid and focused conversation.  She writes, “In it’s simplest form, a fierce conversation is one in which we come out from behind ourselves into the conversation and make it real.”

At the heart of the concept is the notion that Scott has termed ‘Mineral Rights’ and is a series of questions intended to accomplish the four purposes of a fierce conversation:

  1. Interrogate reality
  2. Provoke learning
  3. Tackle tough challenges
  4. Enrich relationships

An excellent guidebook for helping one tackle difficult conversations in a meaningful way, there are dozens of example questions to help facilitate such conversations, and assignments at the end of each section to help one fully understand the concepts.  She also offers excellent pragmatic suggestions for helping the reader prepare for discussion so that it is a positive and focused use of time and energy.

Whether for use as a supervisor, a colleague or personally, Scott’s book is a wonderful professional development opportunity.