A Fuller View of Success

What does it mean to be successful?

Society often measures success by material possessions, salaries paid, and degrees earned. In schools, success typically means high grades, strong test scores, and awards and recognition. Yet in the rush to achieve, we can lose the whole child, pursuing a two-dimensional view of success.

That’s why at Baker, we focus on the possibilities in every child, helping each to reach new horizons, growing toward the future. We value the inherent social and intellectual value all children carry within, the questions and smiles they will contribute. By creating a safe environment where students find their voices and learn how to learn, we foster deep thinkers and courageous doers.

One of my favorite formulations of this idea came in the documentary August to June: “Good teachers welcome the whole child at the classroom door.” They welcome a child’s curiosity, sorrow, hunger, creativity, friendship, inquiry, and desire to be known and appreciated.

I think also of a poem by William Martin that speaks to what we expect of our children:

Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

In the rush toward success, to achieve the extraordinary, we can unintentionally devalue the day-to-day events and actions of our lives. It is in the ordinary that we lead our lives and loves, finding meaning and value.

Success lies not in reaching the destination, but in learning from the journey.

I am thankful each day to lead a faculty whose skill and compassion shape the journey on which Baker students become lifelong learners and well-rounded people, and thankful to the parents and families in our school community for their support along the way.

By Dan Schwartz

Mr. Schwartz is our Head of School.