Head of School Letter—November 2018

Dear FXW Community,

It is interesting what we remember from our childhood. Recently, while “supervising” six nieces and nephews between the ages of 5 and 12, I was reminded of a time when I was being a pesky little brother. (Okay, maybe there were multiple times, but please keep in mind that the frequency multiplies significantly when one has 10 siblings.) My memory went back to being jammed into a station wagon (remember those?) with several of those brothers and sisters. From the far end—in the place normally reserved for groceries and luggage—I thought it would be extraordinarily funny to repeatedly ask my mother “why?” It was, I think, my fourth or fifth “why” that was met with a clearer understanding of how strong and precise of a left jab my older sister had.

That recollection recurs often when I hear that simple question: Why? Like in the back of the station wagon, it is still something that we at FXW frequently ask, but now, instead of being an annoyance, it is a necessary and productive inquiry. At its broadest level, it shapes how we measure the intent and success of our mission and is at the heart of our spirit of continuous improvement.

The same question is often formulated at a more micro level. For example, in recent months, we introduced two features: Why I Teach and Why I Give. As part of our focus on our Academic Charism this year, we wanted to offer our faculty avenues to share the thoughts behind their actions and, at the same time, provide parents with the opportunity to get to know these extraordinary women and men a little bit better. We shared many of the Why I Give responses during our FXW Fund appeal, and while the numbers were truly unprecedented—nearly 80% of our faculty and staff together gave over $17,000—the messages behind the donations were even more moving. A common theme among my colleagues was a commitment to our mission, a trust in our community, and a firm belief in the outcome of the FXW education and experience.

The responses to Why I Teach, which we will continue to share with you in a variety of outlets as the year progresses, were equally impressive and inspirational. As the above “word cloud” illustrates in dramatic fashion, the words and phrases that faculty used most frequently—including “passion,” “making a difference,” and “love”—show that for them, teaching is not just a job; it is a calling. This is a striking visual representation of what we see every day in our classrooms: outstanding educators making a real difference in the lives of our students.

Being a school administrator, my own version of this can be more aptly expressed as Why I Serve, which is a compilation of Why I Teach and Why I Give. The answer to this is simple. Just take a look at why my colleagues choose to work at FXW, why you chose FXW for your children, and why the city, and quite possibly our nation, needs a force like FXW now more than ever. And you have your answer as to why I serve.

In addition to childhood memories, our thoughts during this season also naturally turn to our many blessings. When I talk with friends and colleagues at other schools, and when our faculty interacts with peers at conferences and workshops, we are continually reminded of how special FXW is and how fortunate we are to be part of this community. I am thankful for each of you, for your passion and dedication and for your trust and your perspective. I am thankful to work with such extraordinarily talented and devoted colleagues. I am thankful for a Board that provides outstanding guidance and oversight. Perhaps most of all, I am thankful that we are a school that has the courage and the determination to continually ask, Why? Just don’t tell my sister.

With gratitude,