Juggling Life as Our Students Do

December has always struck me as the most fertile month academically…meaning our students have hit their stride in fall semester and can now accomplish an incredible amount of intellectual synthesis in just a few weeks. It’s called exam period, with all the prep leading up to the actual exam week!

Teaching a section of 10th grade English students myself, I see this fertile process in my own class. My students are wrapping up an essay on Merchant of Venice, working in class on Shakespearean sonnets, and ramping up their exam review. That’s a lot to juggle, yet they do it with grace and insight…truly remarkable!

And, of course, they have four other courses to prep for exams, while Seniors also have to worry about ongoing Senior Thesis deadlines as well as college applications this month…I jokingly say it’s like having three jobs (but I do sometimes think it’s nothing to joke about).

Too much work? Too much stress? The faculty and I keep a sharp eye out with these questions in mind, and at our weekly Faculty Meeting we discuss any students who might be in distress, in order to design ways to support each one. The truth, however, is that even in this hectic and jammed month, most of our students are giggling in the halls, volunteering to give admission tours, competing in sports, putting in long hours for Robotics and other clubs…in short, overall they seem able to balance their academic work and the rest of their commitments, while still looking happy. It’s a wonderful dynamic, and few schools I know with our intellectual rigor actually achieve this balance as successfully as we do.

That said, the students will all heave a sigh of relief on December 18 when their last exam (English!) is over,  and then their teachers will sweat a bit to grade them, in time for a full-day faculty review of every student’s fall semester results on January 6 (the day before Academy classes start back up). Families will get semester grades and comments shortly thereafter.

Hard work, exam prep, exams, grading, discussion, sharing with families…between now and January, a lot happens. I wish we all can juggle life as well as our students do.

In that spirit, have a very restful, happy holiday season and a healthy New Year!

Warm regards.
James S. Berkman
Head of School